Seeking to combine his passion for enforcement work and background in accountancy, Ong Yue Ming decided to join the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) of the Singapore Police Force
(SPF) in 2014, after he graduated from Nanyang Technological University
As a Team Leader with CAD’s Investment Fraud Division, Yue Ming investigates complex investment and pyramid selling schemes for suspected fraud as well as breaches of the Securities and Futures Act 2001 and the Multi-Level Marketing and Pyramid Selling (Prohibition) Act 1973.
“Some people have the misconception that Commercial Affairs officers have a deskbound job,” said Yue Ming. “This isn’t true as we also conduct enforcement operations and raids as part of the investigative processes.”
To find out more about this little-known aspect of Yue Ming’s work, we got him to walk us through the process of conducting a raid!
Ascertaining the Facts
Before his team can swing into action, Yue Ming explained that much groundwork needs to be conducted in order to identify suspects, persons and entities of interest, and to also consider what offences may have been committed. “CAD investigates a spectrum of commercial and financial crimes, many of which can be complex,” he said. “That's why building a strong case requires meticulous preparation.”
Enforcement operations allow officers to collect vital evidence in relation to the case. Once Yue Ming has determined that a raid is necessary, he'll plan each step of the operation and assemble a team of officers. “We often work hand in hand with the uniformed officers in CAD,” he said. “Once all the officers who are involved in the operation have been briefed and know their roles as well as our contingency plans, we’ll execute the raid.”
After a firm knock, the door opens and the officers identify themselves. According to Yue Ming, officers may encounter resistance from suspects who don’t cooperate or question the officers’ right to carry out certain investigative actions on their premises.
“The situation can get heated, and some suspects may raise their voices at us,” he said. “As officers, we need to maintain our focus and manage the situation in a professional manner.”
After entering and securing the premises, Yue Ming and his team get to work. They make sure to search every nook and corner to collect evidence and documents that might assist in their investigations.
On complex cases, evidence-gathering can be prolonged. “I once assisted an operation that lasted more than 12 hours,” recalled Yue Ming. “Due to the volume of documents and files we had to review, we had to deploy a bus to bring them back to our office.”
Building a Case
Back in the office, the team will thoroughly review the electronic and physical evidence, follow the money trail and begin interviewing suspects. “Our job is to secure the facts, and if an offence has been committed, we'll take the necessary actions,” explained Yue Ming.
For a recent case involving fraudulent investments, the team was able to recover a substantial amount of criminal proceeds. “It’s satisfying when we manage to get a positive result or secure a conviction at the end of a case,” said Yue Ming. It means that everything we’ve worked so hard for has come to fruition.”
Taking the Lead
Being a Team Leader has allowed Yue Ming to hone his leadership skills. “I’ve picked up a number of new skills such as time management and caring for my officers, so that they can cope well, despite the challenges of our work,” he said. “These skills have definitely helped in my professional and personal growth.”
Due to the complex nature of the offences that they investigate, CAD officers must know the latest trends in commercial crime such as the rise in cryptocurrency fraud. That’s why Yue Ming is glad to have the opportunity to attend courses related to cryptocurrencies and participate in sharing sessions with their international counterparts. “This has helped us come up with better solutions to deal with the increasingly transnational nature of commercial crimes,” he explained.
Yue Ming shared that CAD officers also work with stakeholders such as banks, helping them streamline certain processes to counter fraud and aid in the investigative process. “Such experiences are refreshing because they allow us to give back to society in a different manner as compared to what we usually do,” he said. “At the end of the day, I’m proud to have played a role in sustaining Singapore’s reputation as a world-class financial centre.”
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