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Convicted launderer loses battle over multi-million Singapore flat

Convicted launderer loses battle over multi-million Singapore flat

Monday 23 November 2020

Convicted launderer loses battle over multi-million Singapore flat

Monday 23 November 2020

A convicted money-launderer has lost his latest battle to remove an official order which prevents the sale of a £5m property in Singapore.

The attempts of Robert Tantular, who in 2009 was sentenced to nine years in prison and fined £5m by an Indonesian court for his role in the collapse of a bank, to fight the seizure of assets held under trust in Jersey have been the subject a long-running legal battle stretching back seven years.

The latest chapter in the saga involved Mr Tantular asking the Court of Appeal to overturn an earlier Royal Court decision to grant a saisie judiciare – which is an order that ‘restrains’ assets of ‘realisable property’ that other parties have a claim over, effecting preventing them being sold, gifted or any other transfer of ownership.

In this case, the Indonesian authorities want to confiscate the flat in Singapore, which is owned by a Jersey trust company. 

Through his lawyer, Advocate Mike Preston, Mr Tantular argued that the Royal Court did not have the authority to extend the saisie judiciare to property outside of Jersey. 

Despite the law apparently being clear on the matter – with the relevant legislation defining “property” as meaning “all property, whether moveable or immovable... and whether situated in Jersey or elsewhere” – Advocate Preston argued that the Court should not be interested in the literal interpretation of the law but rather see it as a guide, and there should be a presumption that a law should be confined to the borders of its legislature unless it has been specifically allowed by the relevant foreign state.

Lord Anderson of Ipswich.jpeg

Pictured: Lord Anderson of Ipswich sat in the Court of Appeal on this case.

But the Court of Appeal, comprising of Lord Anderson of Ipswich, Sir Wyn Williams and Sir William Bailhache, rejected this argument.  

“The [relevant] law provides for a high degree of flexibility. In relation to assets located outside Jersey, interim orders affecting such assets will only be made on the application of the Attorney General or the Viscount and pursuant to the order of the Court. In the particular context of Jersey, with its extensive trusts industry, we see the logic of that legal scheme,” it wrote in its judgment.

“In the light of these considerations we would take a great deal of persuading that that the ordinary and natural meaning of the words of [the article of the relevant law], when set in their statutory context, should give way to a more restrictive interpretation as suggested by [Mr Tantular]."


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