Money launderer jailed for first time in Brunei

|     Fadley Faisal     |

A 63-YEAR-OLD Bruneian man became the first individual to be convicted and sentenced for money laundering in the country.

Pengiran Hussin bin Pengiran Sulaiman was sentenced to jail for three years after he pleaded guilty before the Magistrate’s Court to 20 charges of money laundering and 17 charges of cheating.

The defendant also admitted to 38 additional charges of money laundering that too were taken into consideration for the purpose of sentencing.

The efforts of the Attorney General’s Chambers and investigations by the Commercial Crime Investigations Division of the Royal Brunei Police Force in the case is testament to the steadfast commitment of Brunei authorities in pursuing financial criminals and preventing money laundering through Brunei’s financial system.

According to the statement of facts presented by DPP Farhanah binti Pehin Dato Haji Suhaili, the defendant cheated a large number of individuals between February 2015 and October 2016 by offering them a fake investment scheme.

In one incident, the defendant met up one of his victims at a local food court and told him that he would have to pay a minimum amount of B$500 and he would in turn be rewarded with a monthly profit of B$3,000 for lifetime.

The victim then proceeded to invest and handed the defendant the cash, believing what the defendant said to be true.

The court heard that as the victim’s contribution was below the amount, he met the defendant the next day to hand over the defendant two gold bracelets and three gold rings to make up the amount.

The defendant then informed the victim that since the two gold bracelets and three gold rings were assessed to be about B$600, he would be rewarded with a monthly profit of B$6,000 for lifetime.

In a separate case, the defendant along with a colleague met another victim at a restaurant in the Airport Mall and informed him that he would have to pay B$6,350 as payment to participate as a full member of the investment scheme and he would be rewarded with a Mercedes Benz S280 car, B$200,000 in cash, B$60,000 in cash every month for lifetime, a house valued at B$400,000, a Rolex watch, a trip to perform Haj pilgrimage, a VIP Global Card purportedly allowing the holder to withdraw up to $200,000 from any ATM at any global location and cash of B$3,000 every month for 15 years.

Believing the defendant, the victim handed over the money to him.

The defendant also enticed some of the victims to ‘invest’ their money by informing the victims that the investment scheme is a charitable programme known as ‘Dana Pelaburan Amal Jariah’, or ‘Amal Jariah’.

The suspect was arrested on February 12, 2017 following a large number of complaints lodged by the victims at different local police stations stating that they had not received the rewards promised by the defendant.

Investigations conducted by the Commercial Crime Investigations Division of the Royal Brunei Police Force revealed that the defendant collected a total of B$147,581 from several victims.

The court further heard that the defendant committed money laundering when he transferred the amount he collected to another person in the Philippines through Western Union. The defendant also admitted in the court that he had lied in his initial police statements in which he stated he had remitted the money to the Philippines for medical expenses and buying goods, when in fact he had done so to hide the money which were proceeds of crime.

The defendant also admitted to destroying all the receipts by tearing and burning them.

None of the money was recovered.

While sentencing the defendant, who was not represented by a counsel, Senior Magistrate Haji Nabil Daraina bin Pehin Dato Ustaz Haji Badaruddin took into account that the defendant facilitated the transfer of the proceeds of crime by wiring the money abroad.