Real estate agent to be charged for failing to report suspicious transaction by property buyer

SINGAPORE: Despite being told that his client operated illegal gambling dens in Geylang, a real estate agent allegedly failed to report a suspicious property transaction involving the client.

He will be charged on Wednesday (Oct 20).

In August last year, police received a complaint that an Option to Purchase for a private property was rescinded as the buyer was an undischarged bankrupt and the co-buyer was below 21 years old.

The man who will be charged was the real estate agent for the buyer, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) said on Tuesday.

The buyer had told the agent that he would pay the 5 per cent booking fee of S$44,300 in cash because he did not have a bank account, said SPF.

The agent agreed to collect S$11,000 from the buyer on the spot, and the remaining S$33,300 the next day.

The next day, the agent collected S$32,300 in cash – S$1,000 short of the remaining booking fee – from the buyer at the buyer’s house, and put the money in a plastic bag.

The 42-year-old agent later took a photo of the plastic bag and sent it to another real estate agent.

“The photograph was accompanied with Mandarin words which literally translate to mean ‘cannot see the light’, but (are) colloquially used to mean ‘shady’,” said SPF.

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The agent then deposited the cash into his account and handed a cheque to the developer of the private property as planned.

However, a few days later, the buyer’s ex-wife informed the agent that the buyer was an undischarged bankrupt and operated illegal gambling dens in Geylang.

She also asked for the purchase to be made void, and the sum of money returned.

“Despite having suspicions about the cash collected from the purchaser and having been notified of the purchaser’s adverse background, the man allegedly failed to file any suspicious transaction report on the said private property purchase, despite this having come to his attention in the course of his employment,” said SPF of the agent’s actions.

Failure to disclose knowledge or suspicion to a reporting officer when a person knows or has reasonable grounds to suspect that a property might constitute criminal proceeds, was used in or intended to be used in connection with criminal conduct is an offence under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act.

Those found guilty of this offence may be jailed up to three years, fined up to S$250,000 or both.

“The suspicious transaction reporting regime is a key pillar of Singapore’s anti-money laundering and counter financing of terrorism regime,” said SPF.

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The police added that authorities take a serious view towards the filing of such reports, and strongly urge reporting entities to continue their vigilance in detecting and reporting suspicious transactions.

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