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The Straits Times
Aug 4, 2023
Two men who allegedly used sleight of hand to steal €70,000 (S$102,800) and US$25,000 (S$33,500) from a money changer are now accused of unlawfully moving the cash out of Singapore.
Georgians Abralava Irakli, 37, and Darsania Tamazi, 70, are said to have done so at the Woodlands Checkpoint at around 4.30pm on Dec 2, 2022, without submitting a full and accurate report to an authorised officer.
The alleged total amount involved – more than $130,000 – is over six times the prescribed sum of $20,000.
The men are also accused of being in possession of the monies, which were purportedly the benefits of criminal conduct.
They were each handed two additional charges on Friday – one count of unlawfully moving monies out of Singapore and being in possession of alleged ill-gotten gains.
They were first hauled to court on July 28 and handed a theft charge each.
The Georgians allegedly used sleight of hand to steal more than $130,000 in different currencies from a money changer, Monisha Exchange, at Little India Arcade in Serangoon Road at around 4pm on Dec 2, 2022.
The pair allegedly approached the money changer that day on the pretext of exchanging Singapore dollars for euros and US dollars.
In an earlier statement, the police said that when presented with the foreign currencies, one of the men placed the money inside a bag with a number lock attached.
According to the police, he left the bag at the money changer on the pretext of going elsewhere to withdraw Singapore dollars to complete the transaction.
The men later asked the money changer to verify the foreign currencies.
The police had said: “During the process, the men allegedly swopped the genuine notes with counterfeit notes. The men then left the money changer... stating that they would return to complete the currency exchange transaction.”
The money changer opened the bag when the men did not return.
He found a €200 note, a €500 note and a US$100 note that were genuine. The others were purportedly counterfeit notes.
The police were alerted shortly before 8pm the same day.
Through inquiries, images from police cameras, as well as closed-circuit television footage, officers from the Central Police Division and Police Operations Command Centre managed to establish the identities of the purported offenders.
The two men later left for Malaysia, and on Dec 3, 2022, the State Courts issued warrants of arrest linked to their case.
The Malaysian police arrested them at Kuala Lumpur International Airport on July 26. They were handed over to the Singapore police the next day.
The cases involving Irakli and Tamazi have been adjourned to Sept 1.
If convicted of theft, each man can be jailed for up to seven years and fined.
For being in possession of the benefits of criminal conduct, an offender can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined up to $500,000.
And for unlawfully moving monies out of Singapore, an offender can be jailed for up to three years and fined up to $50,000.