It has also exposed how holding an overseas citizenship can help wanted criminals – many from China – vanish, rebrand and get back to their nefarious deeds under a new identity.
Seven of the group arrested in Singapore had foreign passports: two from Cyprus, three from Cambodia, one from Turkey and one from Vanuatu. Extra travel documents for the suspects were also found among the Rolex watches, jewellery and supercars seized by police, thought to have been issued by the likes of Dominica and Saint Kitts and Nevis.
“Easy access to citizenship and passports has allowed individuals to move and migrate, particularly in the Asean region,” Jeremy Douglas, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s (UNODC) regional representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific told This Week in Asia.
“And it is noticeable many are using different names, some a different date of birth, which can help clear border checks where original names may be flagged … and it helps with corporate registrations and obfuscating ownership.”