SINGAPORE: A judge has denied bail for Zhang Ruijin, one of the accused in the money laundering case, saying the length of investigations is not so inordinately long that it is prejudicial to Zhang.
He was arrested on Aug 15 and has been in custody since.
The hearing on Dec 11 was his second application for bail.
Zhang’s lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam told the court on Dec 11 the prosecution cannot continue to rely on the argument that there is a risk of collusion while investigations are ongoing to deny his client bail.
“My client has been remanded for four months and the prosecution is unable to state when investigations will end. My client cannot be remanded indefinitely,” he said.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Gan Ee Kiat said it has only been about 1½ months since Zhang’s previous bail review in October and the “mere passage of time” does not constitute a material change in the accused’s circumstances to justify granting him bail.
He added that the investigation officer has scheduled three interviews with Zhang later in December, and plans to schedule more sessions with him in January 2024.
DPP Gan said: “This case is very complex, there are many moving parts with nine other accused persons and some people of interest overseas.
“We are doing all we can to expedite investigations, but the authorities will need more time. We cannot commit to a timeline at the moment.”
The DPP added that based on affidavits by the investigating officers, there is evidence to show Zhang is linked to other accused persons in the case and that there are several individuals overseas helping him manage his wealth.
“The accused has not identified (those overseas individuals) satisfactorily and the risk of collusion and contamination of evidence is very much at play,” he said.
The court previously heard that Zhang, a 44-year-old Chinese national, and another accused in the case, Lin Baoying, were lovers.
The pair have known each other for more than a decade and their combined assets in Singapore come to about S$325 million, according to affidavits by investigating officers on the case.
Lin, a 44-year-old Chinese national, has about S$215.5 million in assets seized or frozen by the authorities, and for Zhang, the amount in assets is at least S$109.8 million.
Zhang faces three charges of forgery, while Lin faces two charges of forgery and one of perverting the course of justice.
They were arrested in a bungalow along Pearl Island at Sentosa Cove in August 2023, as part of police raids which led to 10 people being charged in Singapore’s largest money laundering probe.
According to the affidavits, Lin has a 15-year-old daughter who lives in Beach Road with a domestic helper, while she lives with Zhang on Sentosa.
The pair was denied bail on Oct 18 on the basis that they are flight risks with multiple passports each.
In denying Zhang bail on Dec 11, District Judge Brenda Tan said it remains that the accused faces serious charges and is a flight risk.
She said: “The law is clear in that once a bail application has been rejected, the court is extremely reluctant to grant bail unless the applicant is able to show new changes in circumstances or if new facts come to light.
“The defence argued that with the passage of time, the risk of the accused colluding with others and contaminating evidence should be given lesser weight.
“I am not satisfied that this constitutes a material change in circumstances and the accused should not be granted bail.” - The Straits Times/ANN