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Chinese hacker Wang Yunhe’s arrest brings fresh scrutiny of Singapore wealth flows | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #hacker


While Wang is accused of a different set of crimes to the remote-gambling ring that was taken down last year, the alleged modus operandi is similar. He set up companies in Singapore that had local citizens serving as directors or corporate secretaries. Besides properties accumulated in the city state, Thailand, Dubai and the US, authorities are also seeking to seize cryptocurrency, watches and luxury cars.

The revelations are a reminder of the difficult balancing act faced by Singapore and other financial hubs as they push to attract the world’s ultra rich. That drive has helped turn Singapore into a premier wealth management centre, yet it has also been accompanied by a string of scandals in recent years – along with vows from authorities to step up oversight.

Wang was arrested in Singapore at his home on May 24. He is charged among other things with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering, according to the DOJ. If convicted on all counts, Wang faces a maximum penalty of 65 years in prison.

The charges against Wang are for allegedly deploying malware, and creating and operating a residential proxy service known as “911 S5”, a botnet that facilitated cyberattacks, large-scale fraud, child exploitation, harassment, bomb threats, and export violations, according to the DOJ.

The Singapore police and attorney general’s chambers have been working with the DOJ and Federal Bureau of Investigation since August 2022, according to a statement from the city state’s police. The police launched an operation to arrest Wang, following an extradition request from the US. The multi-agency effort also included law enforcement in Thailand and Germany, according to the DOJ.

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Wang, who is also a citizen of St Kitts and Nevis, has a Singapore work visa, according to local filings obtained by Bloomberg. His 2,314 sq ft flat in the Orchard Road district was bought in his name in 2021 for S$9.36 million (US$6.9 million), other local filings show.

Security at Wang’s condo said no one was home on the evening of May 30 in Singapore. The Singapore police said it is unable to disclose further information on the status of Wang’s assets as the matter is now before court.

“The conduct alleged here reads like it’s ripped from a screenplay,” said Assistant Secretary for Export Enforcement Matthew S. Axelrod of the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security in the statement on Wednesday, adding that Wang splurged from nearly US$100 million in gains from the criminal enterprise. Now, the US is going after these assets.

In Singapore, US authorities are seeking possession of the Orchard Road apartment as well as his locally-registered 2022 Ferrari F8 Spider.

Wang held a bank account with Citigroup Inc. in Singapore under his name, according to the indictment. In addition, there were accounts with Malaysia’s CIMB Group Holdings Bhd. denominated in US dollars and Singapore dollars, as well as multiple bank accounts in Thailand and with a US lender, held either under his name or other entities and associates.

Citi declined to comment on the case via a spokesperson. The lender “is committed to the fight against any activity that undermines the financial system, and we will extend our cooperation to the authorities,” the spokesperson added. CIMB did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Wang operated under multiple aliases including Jack Wan, Jack Wang and Tom Long, according to the indictment.

One of his now-defunct companies, Eternal Code Pte., was a wholesaler of computer software, according to Singapore’s company registry. It hired directors who held roles in dozens of other companies. None of these company officials has been accused of any wrongdoing.

He also directed two other firms, with addresses listed at a prime office complex in the central business district. Its premises was occupied by another company, Leeden Capital Pte., during a recent visit. Two employees affiliated with Leeden said they were not associated to Wang and do not know his whereabouts.

Singapore faced a test to its reputation as a premier financial hub last year after the arrest of Chinese-born individuals who were accused of using ill-gotten gains from remote gambling businesses to fund extravagant lifestyles. The Monetary Authority of Singapore said in July it will boost surveillance and safeguards against laundering risks in the family office space.

Before this case, Singapore was also rocked by scandals involving huge money flows from Malaysia’s state fund 1MDB and German firm Wirecard AG. The blow-ups have led to financiers being banned, people jailed and banks slapped with fines for poor internal controls.

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