SINGAPORE, Aug 19 — A couple who allegedly swindled millions of dollars from luxury-goods buyers in a high-profile case have been remanded another week by a district court on Friday (Aug 12), as more time is needed for investigations.

The prosecution told the court that it was a complex case that involved more than 180 police reports filed against two companies, Tradenation and Tradeluxury, for failing to fulfil orders of luxury goods.

The couple, Singaporean Pi Jiapeng, 26, and his Thai wife Pansuk Siriwipa, 27, were involved in both companies. They both appeared in court through a video-link.

They each face three charges — two counts of conspiring to cheat and one count of illegal departure from Singapore.

As there were losses of more than S$20 million (RM65 million), the prosecution said more time is needed to ascertain the whereabouts of the funds received by the two companies.

Neither of the couple’s respective defence counsels objected to the prosecution’s application, which was granted by the judge who remanded the couple for another week.

They will return to court on Aug 26.

Pi is represented by Ms Bhargavan Sujatha of Gavan Law Practice LLC, while Pansuk is represented by Mr Johannes Hadi of Eugene Thuraisingam LLP.

Both lawyers appeared in court for the first time in their capacity as the couple’s respective counsels.

The case

The couple has been accused of cheating victims who made advance payments for luxury watches and bags. The pair then purportedly failed to deliver the goods.

Arrest warrants and Interpol red notices were issued against them after at least 180 police reports were lodged since June against Tradenation and Tradeluxury.

Court documents stated that both were allegedly party to a criminal conspiracy to cheat Tradenation customers from May 28 last year to June 27 this year, by deceiving them into giving payment for luxury watches.

They also purportedly conspired to cheat Tradeluxury customers over luxury handbags from Jan 15 to June 27 this year.

Pi, who was born in Fujian province in China, was initially arrested in Singapore on June 27. He had his passport impounded and was released on bail of S$15,000 the next day, pending the completion of investigations.

Pansuk was assisting the police with investigations and surrendered her passport to officers on June 30.

Both later could not be contacted.

They then allegedly fled the country by hiding in the container compartment of a Malaysia-registered lorry, which went through Tuas Checkpoint on July 4.

Five weeks passed before the Royal Thai Police informed the Singapore Police Force that Pi and Pansuk may have been putting up in a hotel across the Causeway in Johor Bahru.

The Singapore police then sought the Royal Malaysia Police’s help to locate them. The couple was arrested by the Malaysian police on Thursday and handed over to the authorities here.

Two Malaysian men — Mohamad Fazli Abdul Rahman, 38, and lorry driver Mohamed Alias, 40 — have already been charged with conspiring to arrange for the couple to be smuggled out of Singapore.

The men recently indicated that they wish to plead guilty. They have been remanded here due to the high risk that they could also flee the country.

Under the Immigration Act, anyone who illegally leaves Singapore or abets the offence faces at least six months’ and up to two years’ jail and may also be fined up to S$6,000.

Any abetment of offences in Singapore, even if committed outside the country, is punishable under the law here.

Those convicted of cheating can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined for each offence. — TODAY