Based on Chinese news reports, Li Huabo was a former junior finance bureau officer from PoYang county, JiangXi province in China, before he fled the country last year after allegedly embezzling 94 million yuan from special funds set up to help the county’s one million poor residents. Li Huabo fled with his wife and two teenage daughters, eventually settling in Singapore. He and his family were later given Singapore PR status by the Singapore government.

Invest $1.5m to get PR for whole family

According to the Straits Times news report “Ex-official sent back to China by S’pore” (May 10) – “Li (Huabo) qualified for PR in 2010, after he invested $1.5 million in an approved fund in Singapore.”

On the first day of his trial on Tue (11 Sep 2013), the court heard that Li managed to invest S$1.5 million in an approved fund in 2010 to help him qualify as a PR as part of the EDB’s Global Investor Programme (GIP), despite earning only 3000 yuan (S$583) a month as a junior govt official in China.

The GIP is actually administered through Contact Singapore, an alliance between the Singapore EDB and MOM. It said that the GIP eases the way for foreigners to set up and operate businesses or to invest in Singapore. Contact Singapore assists by linking up entrepreneurs and investors with local business networks, as well as facilitating a range of immigration processes for their entry and stay here. This includes helping the foreigner and his family to apply and obtain PR status in Singapore.

Under GIP, the foreigner can choose one of the following investment options:

  • Option A: Invest at least S$2.5 million* in a new business entity or to expand an existing business operation.
  • Option B: Invest at least S$2.5 million* in a GIP-approved fund that invests in Singapore-based companies.

Successfully cheated Contact Singapore (EDB) to get PR

It was revealed at the 2013 trial that Li did not mention during the application process that he was a Chinese government official. Shieh said he was unaware of this and added that under Chinese laws, Chinese government officials were not permitted to apply for foreign PR. Shieh allegedly claimed Li Huabo said he was the general manager of a firm called Jingdezhen Jingyu New Energy Development.

Li Huabo started to plan his move to Singapore in 2010, one year before he fled. He approached Edwin Shieh, the director of ADH Group Co Ltd to facilitate the immigration process and pass the GIP application. The GIP application itself is tedious and require relevant business documents to back up an applicant’s claims:

(a) You must possess at least 3 years of entrepreneurial and business track record and must produce audited financial statements of your company for the last 3 years.
(b) Your company must only be engaged in one or more of the industries listed in Annex A in the GIP factsheet.
(c) Your company’s turnover must be at least S$50 million in the year immediately preceding your application, and at least S$50 million per annum on average for the three years immediately preceding your application. You should submit the financial statements of your company with the highest turnover. You may also consolidate your businesses, all of which must only be engaged in one or more of the industries listed in Annex A in the GIP factsheet, to meet the minimum turnover criteria.
(d) If your company is privately-held, you should have at least 30% shareholding in the company. Your role in the company, as well as the growth and profitability of your company would be taken into consideration.

Photo from Contact Singapore
Photo from Contact Singapore

Apparently, Contact Singapore, an initiative by EDB and MOM, did not do their due diligence to scrutinize the documents Li Huabo and his immigration agent submitted.

Li Huabo and his family’s PR status was granted in Nov 2010 through the GIP scheme. Li Huabo then opened several UOB bank accounts and later transferred the money to these accounts as well as accounts of other PRCs in Singapore.

How many of such “PRs” out of 348,654 new PRs?

So, since the fact of the reality is that he was able to get PR status for not just himself but his entire family by merely investing “$1.5 million in an approved fund in Singapore” – makes you wonder how many of such PRs there are amongst the 348,654 new PRs granted in the last eight years, from 2007 to 2014?

How many corrupted cases do you think EDB could have unwittingly let into Singapore because of their negligence?

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Co-edited by STR Editor