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15 months' jail for receiving stolen money

Li Huabo, 51, was found guilty of receiving $182,723. -ST
Tham Yuen-C

Fri, Apr 05, 2013
The Straits Times

A chinese official, accused of embezzling 94 million yuan (S$19 million) in China, was on Tuesday sentenced to 15 months' jail in Singapore for receiving part of that sum in his bank account here.

Li Huabo, 51, was found guilty of receiving $182,723 that was said to have been stolen from the Chinese government.

He is wanted in China for allegedly siphoning off government funds totalling 94 million yuan over a period of five years, when he was a finance bureau officer in Poyang county in Jiangxi province.

Part of the loot, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Luke Tan, was transferred through various intermediaries in three lump sums - $73,939, $35,009 and $73,775 - to Li's United Overseas Bank account in Singapore. The transfers were done between December 2010 and January 2011.

Pushing for a jail term of up to 18 months, the DPP said Li's act had damaged Singapore's "hard- earned" reputation as a financial hub.

But defence lawyer Subhas Anandan countered that it was an exaggeration, as Li was not facing a money laundering charge and his offences had not caused any harm in Singapore.

Li was charged last year with dishonestly receiving stolen property under Section 411 of the Penal Code.

District Judge Siva Shanmugam, in delivering his sentence on Tuesday, said that while the amount involved was not large, Li's offence was premeditated and his methods were sophisticated.

Li said he would appeal against the conviction.

During the trial, he said he was framed by his former co-workers in China, and insisted that he had not stolen from China's government coffers.

He said he had made money over the years through investments in other businesses, such as a travel agency.

In 2010, he invested $1.5 million in an approved fund in Singapore to help him qualify for permanent residency (PR) under the Economic Development Board's Global Investor Programme.

He and his family members were given PR status in November 2010.

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