Illegal remittance business operator convicted
His illegal remittance business was uncovered after he and two others were robbed of more than $1 million
He ran an illegal remittance business, but his offence came to light only after he was robbed in Dunlop Street.
Kamarulzaman Abuasanar and two others were robbed of more than $1.27 million in a daylight heist at a lodging house in Little India on Sept 10, 2012. (See report below.)
All three Indian nationals appeared in court yesterday.
They had been charged earlier with one count each of running a remittance business here without a valid licence from the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
Kamarulzaman, 31, pleaded guilty and was convicted of the offence yesterday.
The cases involving Jalaludeen Gulam Hussain, 35, and Anthony Savarimuthu, 39, are still pending.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Nicholas Khoo told the court yesterday that Kamarulzaman operated a remittance business known as a "Hawala".
He said: "The Hawala system is an alternative and informal channel used for transferring funds from one country to another through service providers known as Hawala agents.
"The agreement to transfer monies across borders is based primarily on phone communications between these Hawala agents." (See report above.)
There is usually no paper trail and the business is based on the trust established between the customer and the agent.
Kamarulzaman, who was not represented by a lawyer, admitted that he is an agent based in Singapore.
He ran his business from a unit at Dunlop Street, which officers from Commercial Affairs Department raided on July 30 this year.
They seized items including mobile phones, laptop computers and remittance documents.
Kamarulzaman admitted that from March 2010 until the raid, he had been remitting an average of about $100,000 to $150,000 a month from Singapore to India.
During this period, his average monthly profit was between $930 and $2,800.
Kamarulzaman and Anthony will be back in court on Jan 21.
Jalaludeen's pre-trial conference will be held on Thursday.
For running a remittance business without a valid licence, Kamarulzaman could be jailed up to two years and fined up to $100,000.
About the heist
Five men staged a fake police raid to rob the three Hawala agents of $1,274,023 in Little India.
Three Singaporeans and two Indian nationals were in the gang of robbers.
On the day of the heist, Sept 10, 2012, the three Singaporeans wore police uniforms and confronted the agents in a Dunlop Street lodging house.
They used plastic flexicuffs to restrain their victims before helping themselves to the money, while their two accomplices acted as lookouts nearby.
The trio escaped in a car with stolen number plates to a multi-storey carpark in Upper Boon Keng Road.
They then went to one of the men's flat and divided the loot.
But their joy was short-lived as real policemen arrested them within 48 hours.
On June 29, after a 29-day trial, four of them were each sentenced to at least 10 years' jail with the maximum 24 strokes of the cane.
LONGEST JAIL TERM
Singaporean music teacher Magesan Ramasamy, 36, received the longest jail term - 10 years and six months.
Another Singaporean, Mohamed Faizal Ajmalhan, 32, who worked in the financial industry, was jailed for 10 years and four months.
Indian nationals Arunachalam Lakshmanan, 37, and Chinnaya Antony Samy, 38, who were construction workers, each received 10 years' jail.
On Sept 4, 2013, their accomplice, Singaporean taxi driver Mohammad Ansari Abdul Hussain, 36, was jailed for eight years and ordered to receive 12 strokes of the cane after pleading guilty to gang robbery and impersonating a police officer.
Mohammad Ansari, a police NSman, had provided the uniforms.
Ansari and Magesan were facing financial problems before the heist.
During one of their meetings in 2012, they decided to rob moneychangers or those in the remittance business to solve their money problems.
They roped in three accomplices before committing the heist.
How Hawala works
- Agents based in Singapore collect remittance funds in Singapore Dollars from Indian nationals who come from the same town or village in India.
- They then convert the monies into goods by buying gold or electronic items in Singapore.
- These items are sent to India through Indian couriers who frequently travel between the two countries.
- These items are sold for profit in India.
- The proceeds are used to replenish the stock of rupees for the Hawala agents based in India to disburse.
- An equivalent amount in rupees is disbursed to the intended recipients, based on pre-arranged exchange rates.