Money changers discuss security precautions

Money changers discuss security precautions
Annadurai Raman, one of the accused in the robbery of a moneychanger at the carpark of Block 110 Aljunied Crescent on Nov 5.

The Money Changers Association (Singapore) met last night to discuss stronger security measures in the wake of two blatant robbery attempts - the first in Aljunied less than three weeks ago, and the other in Raffles Place last Friday.

Mr Mohamed Rafeeq, the association's secretary, told The Straits Times before the start of the meeting: "We are just discussing what precautions we should take, like trying to be more low-profile, engaging in a buddy system and engaging auxiliary police officers such as those from Certis Cisco."

Just hours before the meeting, a Malaysian man, charged in connection with robbing money changer Ali Yousouf Saiboo of $600,000, was taken to Aljunied in the afternoon to give a recount of the alleged incident. Wearing a bright red shirt, shorts and slippers, and restrained at the wrists and ankles, 42-year-old Annadurai Raman took police to the foot of Block 125, Geylang East Avenue 1, next to Geylang East Public Library.

The robbery in the wee hours of Nov 5 had occurred a few blocks away in the carpark of Block 110, Aljunied Crescent. Mr Ali, whose three-year-old son was with him, was parked there when a group of men arrived in another car, broke the window of his vehicle, and stole $600,000 in cash from the boot.

As many as eight men are believed to have been involved. Annadurai, a Singapore permanent resident, is one of three men who have been charged in court. The other two suspects were extradited from Malaysia last week.

Last Friday, Indonesian Kang Tie Tie, who works with a money changer firm in Batam, was repeatedly stabbed outside Raffles Place MRT station in broad daylight. He was carrying nearly $800,000 in cash and blank cheques in his sling bag. The suspected assailant, an Indonesian man by the name of Arun, was detained by passers-by and charged the next day.

The attacks on those in the money-changing business has raised concerns in the industry.

Money changers whom The Straits Times spoke to said only larger firms deal directly with banks and transport large amounts of foreign currency. They typically move cash at irregular intervals and at different times of the day, strap money to waists and ankles, and travel in pairs to avoid being robbed, said one money changer who declined to be named. He added that most would carry only $150,000 at a time.

He also highlighted the low profit margins, saying he can make only up to $30 for a currency exchange involving RM100,000 (S$38,750), for instance. It would not be financially practical to hire armed guards, he said. Money changers who agreed to speak also said insurance typically covers the money they carry to banks, although only during office hours, and money within the shops.

Mr Rafeeq said his association, which represents around 150 money changers, would discuss the possibility of negotiating group rates with Certis Cisco if members were keen. He added that the association management committee will also distribute an advisory to its members today.

amirh@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Nov 19, 2014.
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