SINGAPORE: One of the 10 accused individuals in the billion-dollar money laundering case, who allegedly leapt off a second-floor balcony during a police raid to avoid capture, was denied bail on Wednesday (Sep 13) due to an “extremely high” flight risk.
This is because Su Haijin, 40, a former non-executive director of restaurant operator No Signboard Holdings, is a Cypriot national with no roots in Singapore, and has “considerable wealth overseas” which allows him to relocate and live a comfortable life elsewhere, said District Judge Brenda Tan.
Appearing in court through a video link, Su was charged with resisting arrest when he allegedly refused to open the door to the authorities at his Good Class Bungalow along Ewart Park on Aug 15.
On Sep 6, he was handed another charge of possessing money from criminal offences, involving around S$4.06 million (US$3 million) in benefits that he kept in his UOB account allegedly from unlawful remote gambling offences, according to court documents.
Su, along with nine others, were arrested in one of Singapore’s largest anti-money laundering probes involving assets such as properties, vehicles, luxury goods and gold bars worth more than S$1.8 billion. All 10 have been denied bail.
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EXTREMELY HIGH FLIGHT RISK
At the State Courts on Wednesday, the debate about Su’s bail request lasted for over two hours.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Eric Hu told the court that Su’s extremely high flight risk is evident on the day of arrest when police officers came to his house.
Su fractured his heels, femur and wrist during his escape, according to his defence counsel previously.
“He took flight,” said Mr Hu. “He fled from his balcony and despite breaking both legs and injuring his wrist, he still mastered the will to hide in a drain, just outside his house.”
The police had also found a photograph of a St Lucien passport belonging to a “Su Junjie”. This is on top of various passports Su held that included a Cambodian and Turkish passport, which have not been recovered by the police.
Mr Hu said that this clearly demonstrates that Su has “real means” to travel and leave Singapore’s jurisdiction easily, especially when Su has admitted that he has substantial wealth overseas.
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He then told the court that Su has been charged with offences that do not offer bail, noting that in an affidavit submitted by the investigation officer, there is early credible evidence that Su had committed his offences.
Mr Hu added that should Su be released on bail, it poses a significant risk of collusion which could seriously jeopardise ongoing investigations.
PROSECUTORS OVERSTATED REASONS FOR DENYING BAIL: DEFENCE
Su’s defence counsel, Mr Julian Tay from law firm Lee & Lee, opposed the prosecution’s decision for no bail as he argued that the fundamental basis of bail rests on the presumption of innocence.
Mr Tay said that the three points raised by Mr Hu were overstated as there is no evidence that Su intended to flee or has taken any preparatory steps to abscond and make himself unavailable to attend court.
“My client has strong personal and financial connections to Singapore and he has made Singapore his home since 2017,” said Mr Tay.
Su’s lawyer added that as his “whole village” is practically here in Singapore, Su will not abandon his family members by fleeing Singapore and becoming a fugitive on the run.
Mr Tay also brought up the matter of Su’s assets which were valued around S$170 million, which are currently seized.
“It is my submission that the prosecution has no basis to suggest he would just abandon all his substantial assets in Singapore just to run away from it all,” argued Mr Tay.
“He has every reason to stay in Singapore to defend himself and reclaim back his assets in Singapore.”
Mr Tay then urged the court to consider imposing certain bail conditions to act as safeguards such as implementing e-tagging, setting a curfew or a no contact order, instead of denying bail.
These conditions would give the court the ability to revoke bail right away in the event that bail conditions are breached.
Mr Tay also pointed out that having Su in remand has created serious prejudice as his client has had to prepare his defence in prison where it is not only inconvenient to meet but also difficult to get instructions.
ACCUSED COULD LEAD “VERY COMFORTABLE” LIFE IF HE ABSCONDS
Responding to the defence’s point on supposed prejudice, the prosecutor said that everyone, including investigators, is subjected to the same conditions set out by prisons.
Mr Hu also added that in relation to Mr Tay’s argument, it must be noted that bail hearings do not require rigorous factfinding.
He reiterated that Su has substantial assets overseas which could essentially allow Su to lead a very comfortable life, if he should leave the country with his family members who are not Singapore citizens or permanent residents.
Following the submissions by the prosecution and defence, Judge Tan decided to deny bail for Su, agreeing with the prosecution that he poses an extremely high flight risk.
The judge also agreed that Su has more than one passport and considerable wealth overseas, which allows him to relocate comfortably.
The judge also noted that his substantial financial dealings with another accused person and three other individuals involved, who left Singapore, creates a significant risk of collusion or witness tampering if Su is released on bail.
Su is set to return to court in a month’s time for a pre-trial conference.
This article was originally published in TODAY.