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Singapore hands down first conviction in $2.2 billion money laundering case

By Xinghui Kok

SINGAPORE (Reuters) -A defendant in Singapore's biggest-ever money laundering case was sentenced to 13 months in prison on Tuesday, the first conviction for an investigation that grabbed headlines after billions in luxury properties, cars and gold bars were seized.

Defendant Su Wenqiang, a Cambodian national, was sentenced to 13 months imprisonment for two counts of money laundering, Singapore police said in a statement.

Su had pleaded guilty in a Singapore district court to 11 charges that also included taking proceeds from illegal remote gambling and lying to get work passes for himself and his wife, Channel NewsAsia reported.

"Investigations revealed that Su Wenqiang was involved in an unlawful remote gambling business based in the Philippines, which offered its remote gambling services to persons overseas," the police statement said.

Reuters was unable to reach Su's lawyer for comment.

Su, who holds passports from Cambodia, Vanuatu and China, is one of 10 foreigners who were arrested in Singapore in August last year in simultaneous raids. The court cases against the other defendants are ongoing.

More than $2.2 billion of assets were seized or frozen in the probe. Around S$6 million ($4.4 million) from Su was seized, including cash, two vehicles, jewellery, luxury items and alcohol, the police said.

The case has prompted authorities to set up an inter-ministerial panel to review anti-money laundering measures and inspect financial institutions suspected of involvement.

Government agencies are also reviewing tax incentives for family offices and looking at whether high-value assets such as luxury cars and bags should be subject to regulation.

($1 = 1.3520 Singapore dollars)

(Reporting by Xinghui Kok; Editing by Martin Petty and Edwina Gibbs)