Court confiscates $400k after man fined $30k for under-declaring millions he brought into S'pore

The court confiscated $400,000 after a man was fined $30,000 for under-declaring millions he brought into Singapore.

Malaysian Bryan Woo Kah Hou, 26, worked as a cash courier for Million Serenity, a money changer based in Sarawak, reported The Straits Times.

On June 16, 2023, he carried into Singapore at least $1 million in cash but declared that he only had about $460,000.

Four days later, he carried almost $2 million but declared that he was carrying only about $700,000 worth of currency.

He under-declared the large sums for the sake of convenience, so that the authorities would not ask to verify the sources of the funds.

Woo’s job involved collecting cash in both Brunei dollars and Singapore dollars from clients in Brunei and bringing the funds to Singapore to exchange for Malaysian ringgit.

He would then send the ringgit back to clients in Brunei.

When he arrived from Brunei at Changi Airport Terminal 2 on June 20, Woo was stopped by an immigration officer, who queried him on how many types of currencies he had and how much they were worth.

Woo was vague in his answers. He handed the officer a form in which he declared he had about $700,000 even though it was actually $1.98 million.

He then filled in a second form declaring that he had around $1.96 million.

The officer noticed the discrepancy and asked Woo for an explanation, but he could not give a satisfactory answer. The matter was later reported to the police and the cash was seized.

Investigations revealed that Woo had previously submitted a false declaration on arrival in Singapore on June 16 as well.

On Nov 14, 2023, Woo was convicted for engaging in a conspiracy to move cash into Singapore which exceeded the prescribed amount of $20,000 without giving a full and accurate report to an authorised officer on the movement of that cash on the two occasions.

He was fined $30,000.

On Feb 1, 2024, the prosecution applied to confiscate $400,000 from the seized cash.

Having considered the matter, the court ordered the confiscation.

All travellers arriving and departing Singapore must report the physical movement of any physical currency and bearer negotiable instruments exceeding $20,000 into or out of Singapore.

Bearer negotiable instruments include traveller’s cheques, bills of exchanges, money orders and promissory notes.

The report must contain full and accurate information relating to the movement of the cash.

Failure to do so is an offence that carries a fine not exceeding $50,000, or an imprisonment term not exceeding three years, or both.

Should an offender be convicted, the court may on the application of the public prosecutor make a confiscation order in respect of any part of the cash and bearer negotiable instruments related to the offence.