Man gets fined for under-declaring the $1.98m cash he brought into Singapore, Singapore News

SINGAPORE – A Malaysian man was on Tuesday fined $30,000 for under-declaring the amount of cash he brought into Singapore on two occasions.

Bryan Woo Kah Hou, 26, worked as a cash courier for Million Serenity, a money changer based in Sarawak, Malaysia.

He carried almost $2 million into Singapore on June 20, 2023, but declared that he was carrying only about $700,000 worth of currency.

On June 16, 2023, he carried into Singapore at least $1 million in cash but declared that he only had about $460,000.

He under-declared the large sums for the sake of convenience, so that the authorities would not ask to verify the sources of the funds he brought into Singapore, the court heard.

According to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority website, those entering or leaving Singapore carrying a total value of physical currency and bearer negotiable instruments exceeding $20,000 are required by law to submit a full and accurate report to the police.

Bearer negotiable instruments are non-cash forms of money such as a cheque, bill of exchange, promissory note or postal order.

Woo’s job involved collecting cash in both Brunei dollars and Singapore dollars from clients in Brunei and bringing the funds to Singapore to exchange for Malaysian ringgit. 

He would then send the ringgit back to clients in Brunei.

When he arrived in Singapore from Brunei on June 20, Woo was stopped by an immigration officer, who queried him on how many types of currencies he had and how much they were worth.

Woo, who was carrying about $1.98 million in cash, was vague in his answers. He handed the officer a form in which he declared he had about $700,000.

He then filled in a second form declaring that he had around $1.96 million.

The officer noticed the discrepancy and asked Woo for an explanation, but he could not give a satisfactory answer. The matter was later reported to the police.

Deputy Public Prosecutor David Koh said there is no evidence that the money Woo was carrying into Singapore was tainted.

He added that convenience was by no means a good reason for Woo to avoid truthfully declaring the amount of money he was carrying.

DPP Koh said: “Actions which undermine the reporting regime, even for purportedly innocuous reasons, would ultimately increase the costs of enforcement or render the regime useless, which compromises Singapore’s defences against money laundering.”

In mitigation, Woo said he is a first-time offender and cooperated with the authorities fully in their investigations.

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This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.

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