China National Pleads Guilty to Using Singaporeans as Middlemen for Property Purchases

A Chinese national, Zhan Guotuan, admitted guilt in court on Tuesday, April 16, for authorizing Singaporeans to act as nominees in buying landed properties on the East Coast worth millions of dollars.

Singapore’s Residential Property Act (RPA) mandates that foreigners obtain approval from the Land Authority before purchasing any landed residential property. Zhan, in an attempt to circumvent this law, allegedly authorized a Singapore-registered company, Hwampoa, to purchase an East Coast Road property with the intention of holding it in trust for him.

Reports indicate Zhan was unhappy that two other properties weren’t acquired under his companies’ names. However, he continued and authorized the purchases by Tan, another Singaporean, with the understanding that these properties would also be held in trust for him. Hwampoa has since sold the East Coast property and returned S$2.1 million to the state in September 2019.

Tan, the Singaporean accomplice, was sentenced on March 5, 2024, to two years, three months, and three weeks in jail. He was also fined S$3,000. Zhan, on the other hand, faces the maximum penalty of S$50,000 under Section 23 of the RPA.

This case highlights Singapore’s strict regulations on foreign property ownership and the measures taken to enforce them.


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