Tuesday, 2nd April 2013
A 51-year old fugitive from China and Singapore Permanent Resident (PR) Mr. Li Huabo, who is wanted by Interpol for alleged embezzlement in China, was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment for "receiving stolen money" amounting to more than S$180,000 in his Singapore bank accounts. The Commercial Affairs Department has also frozen about S$1.8 million of his assets here, as they were suspected to be the proceeds of crime. During the trial that was held in Singapore Subordinate Court, Mr. Li claimed his personal wealth was built through businesses on the sidelines and not through embezzlement. His last drawn monthly salary was 3000 yuan (S$600) working as as a low-level government accountant in Poyang County. He said, "They were all my own money," and insisted he had been framed by former co-workers.
He fled China in 2011 after allegedly embezzling 94 million yuan (nearly SGD$19 million) between 2006 and 2010 from special funds set up to help the county’s one million poor residents. The part of his stolen funds were allegedly transferred to his United Overseas Bank account in three sums of S$73,939, S$35,009 and S$73,775, between 6th Dec 2010 and 15th Jan 2011. Li was said to have made counterfeit government seals to endorse official documents and authorized payments for fictitious projects, subsequently diverting the money to an account he and his accomplices had set up. The scheme went on for about five years, after which Li fled China with his family. He obtained his Singapore PR in November 2010 through Contact Singapore’s Global Investor Program (GIP) where invested S$1.5 million into a GIP-approved fund. He and his family (wife and their two teenage daughters) also bought a S$1.3 million luxurious apartment in Singapore when they arrived.
Meanwhile, back in China, the embezzlement case has implicated 57 people in Poyang county (Jiangxi province), including a section director at Poyang county’s finance bureau, Mr. Li's boss, who was sentenced to 19 years in jail for his role in the embezzlement. Ouyang was a powerful figure in Poyang, running the finance department and sitting on the local branch of a nationwide political advisory body.
Background: Poyang is one of China’s poorest counties with a population of about 1 million people. It is located on the eastern side of Lake Poyang. Lake Poyang was once the China’s largest freshwater lake of about 4,000 square kilometers, however drought and dams shrunk the lake to just 200 square kilometers. In Poyang about 400 bureaucrats handle finances for the Poyang County’s 29 townships.
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