Nyo Ah Hai, who has been labelled as the ‘mastermind’ behind a transnational car-smuggling syndicate that involved some 172 cars – reportedly being Toyotas, mostly - with a value totalling more than RM19 million (6.8m Singapore Dollars) has been sentenced to 90 months in jail for his crimes before States Courts.
According to Channel News Asia, the 51-year old Malaysian, who also goes by the trade pseudonym Robin Hai, had been able to evade the authorities for the seven years since 2008, when he is believed to have began his illegal activities. His last-known residence was in Nibong Tebal in Penang. All stolen vehicles involved were Malaysian-registered.
Nyo focused on smuggling the stolen cars into Singapore for export and sale overseas to countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Cyprus, and Kenya. He was wanted by the Singaporean, Malaysian, and Indonesian authorities as well as Interpol.
After finally being apprehended at Changi Airport on May 14, 2014 for travelling under a false passport, the news agency said he was charged with 15 counts of voluntarily assisting in the disposal of stolen property and one count of using counterfeit travel documents.
He did not work alone, but relied on a group of accomplices locally and abroad. Channel News Asia provided details of Nyo’s operations, which would usually start with communicating with suppliers of stolen cars throughout the country. After identifying the vehicles he wanted, Nyo would pay a Thai national known as “Wendy” to fabricate fake sales invoices for those cars.
Following this, the false invoices would be emailed to another accomplice, Steven Tan, the owner of a Singaporean freight forwarding company. He would work to procure cargo clearance permits so the cars would successfully pass through Singapore Customs.
Another accomplice, Ben Tan, owner of a car import company in Singapore would be given those permits and make arrangements to have them towed across. Drivers, “Ah Hua” and Tan Keok Beng, two other conspirators, were tasked with removing the license plates and to transport the said cars across the Causeway to a bonded warehouse on Penjuru Road in Jurong, Singapore.
A Singaporean export company owned by Erwin Tiong would then handle the logistics of sending the cars father abroad, such as to Nyo’s customers in Thailand.
Jane Lim, the Deputy Public Prosecutor who heard the case, dismissed any attempts to secure a lighter sentence by the defence’s attorney, arguing that the accused had been conclusively helming the illegal operations and sought to recruit others.