Two men, Su Wenqiang and Wang Baosen, both of whom hold Cambodian passports and were convicted in Singapore's largest-ever money laundering case, were deported to Cambodia on May 6, according to the Straits Times.  

The pair, aged 32, were part of a group of 10 foreigners arrested in August 2023 in connection with a money laundering investigation involving over $3 billion in cash and assets.

The Singapore newspaper said Wenqiang received a 13-month jail sentence on April 2 for money laundering charges, admitting to possessing over $600,000 in cash from illegal online gambling platforms and using $500,000 in criminal proceeds to buy a luxury car. 

Baosen, who not only holds Cambodian but also Chinese and Vanuatu passports, received the same sentence on April 16 for similar charges, including lying about the source of his funds and his employment status in Singapore.

He was found to have submitted a forged loan agreement to HSBC Holdings plc for $600,000 and could not account for over $1.4 million used for a luxury condo purchase in Orchard in March 2022.

Touch Sokhak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, stated that as a matter of principle, regardless of the nationality of the person – be they foreign or Khmer – according to the influence of globalisation, when a person commits a crime, whether in their home country or abroad, they are subject to the laws of that country.

“They must be punished according to the court's decision. We do not provide protection for criminals who violate national or international laws. Cambodia is governed by the rule of law,” he told The Post.

“This means we must respect the laws of the Kingdom, as well as the laws of friendly countries," he added. 

Pech Pisey from Transparency International Cambodia expressed concerns that because the case involved Cambodian citizens, it could negatively impact the Kingdom’s reputation on the international stage and its citizenship application process.

When the suspects were arrested in August, he told The Post that Cambodia needed to guarantee adherence to the legal aspects of applications, as well as transparency and integrity in the citizenship process, to prevent abuses by foreign criminals.

“One lesson that can be learned from this case is that we must abide by the laws when issuing citizenship to foreign nationals, and that it must be done with transparency and integrity,” said Pisey. 

In light of recent crimes involving Cambodians of Chinese descent, Sokhak noted that all individuals who have been granted citizenship must adhere to the conditions outlined in the Law on Nationality, adding that the ministry’s immigration department is responsible for managing the citizenship application process until the King signs it, ensuring all prescribed laws are complied with.

“Granting citizenship to an individual does not guarantee that the person will always be law-abiding, either domestically or internationally, as situations can change,” he explained. 

"It is not just individuals who have recently been granted citizenship who commit crimes; even long-standing citizens of our own nationality have done so," Sokhak noted. 

"I want to emphasise that before citizenship is granted to any foreigner, it is almost impossible to predict whether that person is likely to commit a crime in the future,” he continued.

Sokhak added that the possibility of revoking citizenship requires a detailed review of each case and an in-depth study of the relevant legal requirements.

Wenqiang and Baosen have both been barred from re-entering Singapore, according to a spokesperson from Singapore’s Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA).