American jailed one year for money-laundering offences in Singapore

Singapore State Courts (Yahoo News Singapore file photo)

An American citizen who cheated a singer-songwriter and transferred part of her money to a Singapore-registered company was jailed 12 months for money laundering on Monday (23 April) in Singapore.

David John Plate, 53, cheated American country music singer-songwriter Mary Holladay Lamar, of US$600,000 (S$793,884), prompting her to travel from the UK, where she resided, to Singapore to lodge a police report on 6 June 2015.

At the time of the offences, Plate was said to be “director” or “CEO” of Aglobal Management, a Singapore-registered company. However, his accomplice, Sandrasegaran Vasimuthu, was registered as a figurehead director of Aglobal and received instructions from Plate to pull off the scheme. Sandrasegaran, 56, is also the sole signatory of the company’s OCBC bank account.

Lamar, who co-wrote the song “Breathe” by Faith Hill, said that she was on the verge of bankruptcy due to her financial loss. She had also not received her supposed 30 per cent investment return for her “investment”.

The prosecution said that the case involving Plate was the first time that an overseas scammer was convicted of money laundering offences here.

Plate earlier pleaded guilty to one count of abetting Sandrasegaran to receive stolen property amounting to US$45,000 on 25 July 2014 and one count of abetting the same person to transfer benefits from criminal conduct totalling US$10,000 to an account on the same day. Another four counts of similar offences amounting to US$35,393 were taken into consideration for sentencing.

Sometime in July 2014, Plate deceived Lamar into investing US$600,000 into the company Globomass Limited. Only US$50,000 of Lamar’s money was transferred to Globomass and Plate emailed Lamar a letter on 30 September 2014 purportedly to confirm her investment in Globomass.

Plate also informed an executive from Captive Risk Management Services that the company would be receiving US$600,000 and instructed the executive to “turn this around straight away”. He told the executive to transfer the funds to three bank accounts, including Aglobal’s OCBC bank account.

A total of US$45,000 was transferred into Aglobal’s account three days later. On the same day, Plate directed Sandrasegaran to send US$10,000 to a “Todd Peterson”. In all, Sandrasegaran was instructed to transfer monies to five bank accounts, including Plate’s.

As a result of the police report, Plate was placed on Singapore’s stop-list and was called up for investigations after he entered Singapore on 23 February last year.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Nicholas Khoo described Plate as an “international scammer” who cheated his victim and “deliberately laundered part of his scam proceeds through Singapore’s banking system”.

“More egregiously, he directed for the money laundering offences to be committed in Singapore whilst safely remaining overseas, thus rendering it difficult for the Singapore authorities to apprehend him,” he said.

The prosecutor sought a 12-month jail sentence, adding that Plate was the “prime mover” behind the scheme.

Plate’s Criminal Legal Aid Scheme lawyer, Amogh Chakravarti, asked for a sentence of nine months, highlighting that Plate had pleaded guilty before his scheduled trial date. The lawyer told the court that his client was unable to make restitution.

Sandrasegaran has yet to be dealt with in court, according to the prosecution.