Banner Advertiser

Sunday, June 24, 2012

[mukto-mona] : CoCo in Singapoore

Khaleda Zia's Son Coco in Singapore's Newspaper

He was 'excited' to have VIP's son as client
Man held former Bangladesh PM's son's illegal funds in his bank account. -TNP
Thu, Jan 06, 2011
The New Paper
By Amanda Yong and Chong Shin Yen

THE man was an important person, the son of a foreign government leader.

Lim Siew Cheng, 63, the managing director of a corporate secretarial services company, was enamoured of Mr Arafat Rahman, the youngest son of then Bangladesh prime minister Khaleda Zia.

So when the latter asked him to transfer about $3.17 million to two bank accounts here, he agreed.
But the money was tainted.

Lim ended up being dragged into a multi-national corruption probe and was even quizzed by investigators from the US Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Yesterday, Lim pleaded guilty in a court here to two counts of failing to inform the authorities that the money Mr Arafat asked him to transfer and hold in his own name in another bank account were the proceeds of criminal conduct.

He was fined $12,000.

Lim's offence falls under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act, which was expanded to include non-drug related offences in 1999.

Changes to the Act made it mandatory for all persons - including non-financial institutions and persons - to report any suspicious transactions to the authorities.

Lim is only the second person prosecuted for such an offence so far.

The court heard that in April 2004, Lim was introduced to Mr Arafat by one of his Bangladeshi clients, a Captain Sohail of QC Shipping, which is based here.

Mr Arafat told him that he wanted to set up a company here to invest in properties and in the shipping business.

The court heard that for his secretarial services, including acting as a nominee director and shareholder for the company, known as Zasz Trading and Consulting, Lim received $100 every month.

Lim and Mr Arafat also opened a United Overseas Bank (UOB) account under Zasz with both of them as the authorised signatories.

Second company

In November 2005, Lim incorporated another company, Fairhill Consulting, for Mr Arafat. This time, Lim was the sole signatory of the UOB account.

Several transactions took place in both accounts over the next few years, but these were all done by Mr Arafat and he told Lim about the nature of the transactions only from time to time after the event, said Lim's lawyer, Mr Nakoorsha Kadir.

Then, suddenly on Feb 16, 2007, Mr Arafat called him and gave instructions to close both companies immediately due to political problems in Bangladesh.

He told Lim to transfer the remaining funds in the bank accounts to an account under Lim's name for the time being.

Less than a week later, Lim moved US$900,677.34 (S$1.16 million) from the Fairhill account and $2.013 million from the Zasz account to a bank account under his own name.

Four months later, Lim read in newspaper reports that Mr Arafat had been arrested in Bangladesh.
Lim got a call from a Mr Ferdous Khan, a chartered accountant, in November 2007.

He claimed he was conducting an investigation for the interim military government in Bangladesh and that he had traced a payment of US$180,000 to the Zasz bank account.

Lim also got a phone call from someone claiming to be a Bangladeshi embassy official, and a fax from a Bangladeshi government agency about the matter.

It was only then that he started to feel troubled about the situation. But he still thought that Mr Khan might be a fraud and that opportunists or political rivals of Mr Arafat's family could be trying to trick him into releasing the money.

On the advice of his lawyers, he went to the Commercial Affairs Department on Nov 7, 2007.

About eight months later, the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) seized the relevant documents and files and interviewed Lim and his secretary.

In September 2008, through CPIB, Lim provided a confidential statement to the Bangladeshi authorities for their investigations.

When Mr Arafat finally called Lim once in December 2008 and again in January 2009, Lim said he was still awaiting his written instructions and that he had told the authorities about the funds.

On Jan 14, 2009, he agreed to speak to officers from the US Department of Justice and the FBI at the CPIB office.

He said he was still unclear about what exactly was going on, even at that stage.

The court was told that the money in Lim's bank account, which he later transferred to UOB accounts opened under the respective companies' names, was seized by the police.

In Lim's mitigation, Mr Nakoorsha said his client had been "naturally quite excited to have a VIP such as the son of a Prime Minister as a client".

Ms Zia was premier from 1991 to 1996 and from 2001 to 2006.

According to previous news reports, a Dhaka court ruled in 2009 that she and her elder son, Mr Tareq Rahman, should go on trial after they were charged with embezzling more than US$300,000 meant for an orphanage.

They denied any wrongdoing and said the charges were politically motivated.

Mr Arafat also faces corruption charges and is accused of laundering more than US$2.7 million through bank accounts in Singapore.

For failing to disclose the suspicious transactions, Lim could have been fined $10,000 on each charge.


Mukto Mona plans for a Grand Darwin Day Celebration: 
Call For Articles:




"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it".
               -Beatrice Hall [pseudonym: S.G. Tallentyre], 190

Your email settings: Individual Email|Traditional
Change settings via the Web (Yahoo! ID required)
Change settings via email: Switch delivery to Daily Digest | Switch to Fully Featured
Visit Your Group | Yahoo! Groups Terms of Use | Unsubscribe