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Ex-China Official Fails to Overturn Singapore Conviction

Li Huabo, a former Chinese government official sentenced to 15 months in jail for receiving stolen money in his Singapore bank accounts, lost his appeal to overturn his conviction.

“I find there was no injustice in convicting and sentencing the appellant,” Singapore High Court Justice Choo Han Teck said in his written ruling today, dismissing the appeal.

Li, who had worked in one of China’s poorest counties before migrating to Singapore in 2011, was accused by China of embezzling 94 million yuan ($15 million) and was convicted last April on three charges of receiving S$182,700 (146,632) in stolen funds into his Singapore bank accounts. The 52-year-old, who has been out on bail, claimed he was framed by former co-workers.

The former section director at Poyang county’s finance bureau in China’s southeastern Jiangxi province, had claimed during his trial that his wealth was built through businesses including a 42 percent stake in an oil refinery and a tourist agency organizing trips to Macau.

More overseas criminals are seeking to launder money through bank accounts in Singapore, the city’s financial police said in their annual report. The island handled a record number of money laundering prosecutions in 2013 as police seized S$115 million of suspected criminal proceeds last year.

Global Financial Integrity estimated that $1.08 trillion in illicit funds flowed out of China from 2002 to 2011, according to a December report by the Washington-based anti-money-laundering watchdog group. Singapore and China don’t have an extradition treaty.

The case is Li Huabo v Public Prosecutor, MA68/2013. Singapore High Court.

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