Malaysian jailed for failing to account for $12M cash he brought into Singapore

Wan Ting Koh
Malaysian ringgit notes are seen among other currency notes in this photo illustration taken in Singapore. REUTERS/Edgar Su/Files

A man who failed to account for the cash in Malaysian ringgit ($12 million) that he brought into Singapore over eight months was jailed 36 months on Wednesday (7 February).

The sum is the largest ever amount involved in a case prosecuted under a particular section in the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act (CDSA).

Malaysian Abdul Jalil Sulaiman, 47, had brought the cash from Malaysia at the behest of a man he worked for, Mohd Salim. Salim, whom Jalil said is an Indian national who is a Malaysian permanent resident, cannot be located or contacted.

Jalil pleaded guilty to 30 counts of failing to give a full and accurate report on the cross border movements of cash into Singapore, a breach under section 48C of the CDSA. Another 70 counts of a similar nature were taken into consideration for his sentencing.

Jalil brought cash sums which exceeded the prescribed limit of $30,000 each time he entered Singapore, from September 2013 to April 2014.

On one of the occasions on 16 April 2014, Jalil arrived at Woodlands checkpoint on his Malaysian-registered motorcycle. He later submitted a declaration for MYR150,000 and returned to his motorcycle.

At this point, an Immigration and Checkpoints Authority officer checked Jalil’s backpack and found cash amounting to MYR99,400. However, when the officer checked Jalil’s motorcycle, he found a red plastic bag containing cash amounted to MYR150,000 under the motorcycle seat. The case was referred to Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) for investigations and the cash seized.

During investigations, Jalil claimed he got to know Salim for the first time in 2010. He said that Salim owned four to five money-changing outlets in Malaysia.

Sometime in 2013, Salim instructed Jalil to register two companies, Jamiz Man Solution and Jamiz Enterprise, both of which were shell companies. Under Salim’s instruction, Jalil opened four bank accounts for the companies and Salim deposited money into the bank accounts to facilitate moving the funds into Singapore through Jalil.

After the money was deposited into the accounts, Salim instruct Jalil to withdraw the cash and hand them to strangers in Singapore. Jalil denied knowing where Salim got the money from or why he had to pass the cash to these persons.

After withdrawing the cash, Jalil would meet Salim to collect a mobile phone with a Singapore-registered mobile number before moving the cash into Singapore. He would then hand the cash over to people he met around Serangoon Road before returning to Malaysia.

Salim paid Jalil MYR200 for every MYR100,000 that Jalil transferred. In this manner, Jalil earned an average of MYR2,500 a month.

Of the 106 cash movement reports Jalil filed, 101 of them exceeded the prescribed limit of $30,000. These reports contained false declarations of information, such as the name of the person whom he received the cash from, the intended recipient of the cash and the amount of cash he was moving into Singapore.

The prosecution, represented by Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Stacey Fernandez, said that Jalil  was “not a one-off offender” unaware of the reporting requirements.

“He is an offender who deliberately contravened the cash reporting regime over eight months in a systemic manner, against a backdrop of suspicious activity where the accused was operating shell companies which received funds on behalf of Salim,” she said.

The prosecution asked for 36 months’ jail for Salim.

In mitigation, Jalil, who was not represented, said he sought the court’s forgiveness and that he did not believe he would get in “such big trouble”.

“I did it out of greed but now I am standing here without anything for myself. I don’t know what my family is doing and where they are,” said Jalil, who has six children.

District Judge Jasvender Kaur said that while there was no evidence that the money was tainted by  criminal activities, the CAD was unable to determine the source or purpose of the money due to the false disclosure. She added that Jalil chose to act as a cash courier for Salim with his “eyes wide open”.

Jalil could have been jailed for up to three years and/or fined $50,000 on each count.