SINGAPORE — The couple arrested for an alleged multi-million-dollar luxury goods scam were each handed three charges in court on Friday (12 August).
Pi Jiapeng, a 26-year-old Singaporean man, and his 27-year-old Thai wife, Pansuk Siriwipa, were arrested in Johor Bahru and handed over to Singapore police on Thursday, after being on the run for over five weeks.
CNA reported that two of the charges are for conspiracy to cheat, while the third charge is for illegally leaving Singapore via Tuas Checkpoint at about 7.25pm on 4 July.
Pi and Pansuk are accused of cheating customers of Tradenation - one of two companies they are associated with - by deceiving them into paying for luxury watches that they did not intend to deliver between 28 May 2021 and 27 June this year.
They are also accused of cheating customers of another company, Tradeluxury, between 15 January and 27 June by deceiving them into paying for luxury handbags that they did not intend to deliver.
Not right to have fled Singapore: Pi
CNA reported that Pi and Pansuk appeared in a district court via video-link from remand.
When asked by the judge if they had anything to say, Pi said it was not right for them to have fled Singapore.
"My wife and I are facing a lot of death threats and pressure. It is our mistake to take that decision and we are really very sorry about the trouble," CNA reported him as saying.
Meanwhile, Pansuk said via a Thai interpreter, "I know that I have done something wrong. I will cooperate with the police for the investigation."
CNA reported that the judge granted the prosecution's request for the pair not to be offered bail, as they were "proven" flight risks.
The pair will return to court next week.
Fled Singapore by hiding in lorry compartment
Pi was first arrested by the Singapore police on 27 June, and released on bail the next day with his passport impounded. Pansuk, who was assisting the police with their investigation, surrendered her passport to the police on 30 June.
The duo subsequently became uncontactable and later fled Singapore by hiding in a container compartment of a lorry on 4 July. Two Malaysian men, including Mohamed Alias, 40, have been arrested and charged with aiding the fugitives in their escape.
Interpol red notices issued against the couple were published online on 21 July.
At least 180 reports have been lodged with Singapore police since June against Tradenation and Tradeluxury, with victims claiming that they made payments for luxury watches or bags to the companies, which then failed to deliver the goods. Investigations into the case are ongoing.
The punishment for cheating is jail for up to 10 years and a fine.The penalty for leaving Singapore without presenting a passport is up to six months' jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
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