A 50-year-old Malaysian national has been convicted for his involvement in a $39.9 million SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) scam, which was perpetrated by a criminal syndicate that includes multiple individuals. As per the court documents, the former security guard helped launder $3.15 million of the proceeds from the scam targeted at SSG.
The convict, Nathan Muniandy, pleaded guilty to six charges of laundering $900000 of the $3.15 million and was sentenced to jail for three years and three months on Wednesday, December 11. Fifteen other similar charges were taken into consideration during sentencing.
SkillsFuture Singapore's Course Grant Scheme
It should be noted that the SkillsFuture includes four key thrust areas such as helping individuals make well-informed choices in education, training and careers, develop an integrated high-quality system of education and training that responds to constantly evolving needs, promote employer recognition and career development based on skills and mastery and foster a culture that supports and celebrates lifelong learning.
Under its Course Grant Scheme, a business entity in Singapore that sends its employees to attend skills training courses with registered training providers can apply to SSG for subsidies on such course. It needs to be mentioned that these subsidies may be paid to the business entity or the training provider, depending on the method of claim used.
The criminal syndicate
Nine dormant Singapore-registered entities, which includes three training providers and six other business entities, were used in this recent scam. These entities submitted a total of 8,386 false applications and 8391 claims to SSG from May to October 2017 and the authority paid $39.9 million to them.
During the court hearing it was mentioned that the accused Nathan became acquainted with Vincent Peters who is a member of the criminal syndicate in 2014. The convict moved into Vincent's residence to stay with him and his family, as both of them became friends and Nathan didn't have any family in Singapore.
The money laundering
Vincent offered to pay Nathan money in return for converting cash cheques on October 2017 and as the convict had a financial problem then, he took the offer. Both of them visited various branches of Maybank and OCBC for the next four days.
At each branch Vincent handed Nathan cash cheques, instructed him to encash them and told the Malaysian to lie that he was an employee of the respective company while issuing the cheques. As per the court documents, the convict did not know anything about the source of the encashed money or about the companies who were issuing the cash cheques.
It should be noted that Nathan is not the only one who faced a conviction for providing his assistance to Vincent encash cash cheques in return for money. As per the court documents a former cleaner, Manickam Pragasam had also helped Vincent in laundering over $1 million of the scam proceeds who was sentenced to two years and nine months of jail term on June 4. However, the main accused Vincent was also arrested and jailed for six years and eight months on November 8.