SINGAPORE: A 39-year-old man has been arrested for his suspected involvement in money laundering offences linked to a business email impersonation scam related to COVID-19.

The police said in a news release on Saturday (Apr 4) that they were alerted in mid-March to a case of an overseas pharmaceutical company being defrauded of €6.64 million – about S$10.2 million – for the purchase of surgical masks and hand sanitisers.

After the company transferred the funds to a local bank, the items were not delivered and the supplier became uncontactable.

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Following investigations, officers from the Commercial Affairs Department identified the man who had received the funds and arrested him on Mar 25 when he returned to Singapore.

Preliminary investigations revealed that the man had acquired the money, which were criminal proceeds, and removed part of the funds out of Singapore.

Through quick intervention and close collaboration with seven banks, the police said their Anti-Scam Centre managed to recover more than S$6.4 million of the amount scammed.

The banks involved were United Overseas Bank, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation, Standard Charted, Maybank, DBS, CIMB as well as HSBC.

“This is the biggest single recovery since the formation of the Centre. Efforts are underway to trace and recover the remaining monies,” the police said.

READ: 11 people arrested for various scams, including 3 involving face masks

The agency added they would like to commend the banks for their “invaluable assistance” in the recovery of the money.

The suspect is currently being investigated for multiple offences under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking And Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation Of Benefits) Act, which carries a fine of not more than S$500,000 or a jail term for not more than 10 years, or both.

The police added they take a serious view of all those who take advantage of the current COVID-19 situation to perpetrate crimes and will spare no effort in taking all those who flout the laws to task.

READ: PM Lee warns against fake COVID-19 email purportedly sent by him asking people for ‘contributions’

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