Latest report in the SG government-controlled Straits Times all but confirms the provenance and veracity of this article.

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White on the outside but the opposite on the inside I guess.

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Wouldn't it be great if Golden Triangle drug lords who launder and spend their money in the Republic of Singapore were treated in the same way as the hapless drug mules who are hanged without mercy?

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The faces of the suspected money launderers that stared back at us from the landing pages of Singapore's media outlets were unimpressive. They looked more like illegal cigarette vendors on some of Singapore's seedier streets than multi-millionaires. Yet these were the 'multinationals' who had allegedly siphoned off close to 2 billion Singapore dollars from unsuspecting victims of scam calls in Cambodia, snaked a trail to Turkey, Cyprus, and Vanuatu, and finally landed up as cash, cars, and condominiums in some of Singapore's most premier residential addresses.

Putting a face to the alleged crime is a step in the right direction, and this is where the focus should be to stamp out illegal activity. Behind every financial transaction, there is an entity and behind every entity, there is a walking, talking human being. Capturing the data of each person who enters the country seeking employment or residence and cross checking his or her data with those from other countries should be uppermost on any government serious about tackling illicit money flows.

Some suspects had been on wanted lists in other countries before arriving in Singapore. One of them, Vang Shuiming, a Chinese national, was issued a notice to surrender in China in August 2022 by the public security bureau in Zibo - a prefecture-level city in China's Shandong province - over his involvement in an illegal gambling syndicate. Vang is said to have ties to a syndicate that was busted in May 2022, with more than 10 million yuan (US$1.3 million) in funds seized. The notice said nine people, including Vang, had fled abroad.

If the immigration and police databases of China, Singapore, and Turkey (where he holds a passport) were aligned and shared, Vang Shuiming would have been apprehended at Singapore's Changi Airport upon touch down, not years later after he had amassed more than $200 million Singapore dollars’ worth of assets.

It is foolhardy to place the burden of scrutinising money trails on banks, real estate agents, remittance houses and money lenders whose profits swell whenever large amounts of money change hands.

In this day and age when social media sites and search engines are supposedly tracking your every move and sending you highly targeted advertisements, it isn't difficult to envisage the same massive databases and computing power being used to track down suspected criminals if data is captured, shared and cross-checked diligently by the immigration and police of countries around the globe.

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CBDCs surely will solve this issue.

Pun intended.

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