SINGAPORE — Five individuals – four Singaporeans and a Russian – were charged in court for conspiring to cheat various banks by hiding the ultimate beneficial ownership of various companies from the banks.
In a media statement on Friday (13 December), the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau said that the five individuals acted as nominee directors for foreign-owned, Singapore-incorporated companies.
They then opened bank accounts under the names of these companies by declaring to banks that they were their ultimate beneficial owners, when they were not.
According to the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants website, a beneficial owner is defined as “the natural person (or persons) who ultimately own or control a client and/or the natural person on whose behalf a transaction is being conducted”.
One of them, 30-year-old Singaporean Andruew Tang, was previously under investigation by the Singapore government in 2017 for owning a company which allegedly provided oil to North Korea.
Tang was charged with four counts of engaging in a conspiracy with 51-year-old Russian Vadim Koryagin to cheat various banks, who were induced to omit to consider the true ultimate beneficial ownership when deciding whether to open the bank accounts.
Koryagin was also charged with 26 further counts of a similar offence. In 2011, he and Tang had set up Singapore Professional Wresting, touted as the only professional wrestling company in the Republic.
The other three Singaporeans are Joel Sam Thomas, 35, Seet Mei Seah, 62, and Phee Sim Gek, 41. Thomas and Phee were charged with four counts of engaging in a conspiracy with Vadim to cheat various banks, while Seet was charged with three.
Their cases have been adjourned to next month. Anyone convicted of a cheating offence can be sentenced up to three years’ jail and/or be fined.