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Singapore to Make it Easier for Law Enforcement to Prosecute Money Laundering Cases

New Anti-Money Laundering and Other Matters Bill introduced to parliament

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Staff Writer, TLR

Published on July 3, 2024, 17:43:28

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Singapore, Money Laundering, scams, investigation, crime

Singapore is seeking to make it easier for law enforcement to prosecute money laundering offences in the city-state, the home affairs ministry said, noting how currently some cases are not pursued unless it is possible to show the complete money trail of suspected funds from money laundering entering the Asian financial hub.

The new Anti-Money Laundering and Other Matters Bill introduced to parliament will remove the need for the prosecution to show a direct link between the criminal conduct and the laundered funds, the home affairs ministry said in a press release.

"It will be sufficient for the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the money launderer knew or had reasonable grounds to believe that he was dealing with criminal proceeds," said the ministry, adding this would help in the prosecution of money mules when funds laundered had initially passed through bank accounts and intermediaries in foreign jurisdictions.

Last year, Singapore busted a $2.24 billion money laundering ring run by foreign citizens, with the last of 10 offenders sentenced on June 10.

The criminals held money gained from overseas scams and overseas online gambling in bank accounts in Singapore and converted some into real estate, cars, handbags and jewellery.

Prime Minister Lawrence Wong said last month Singapore faces greater money laundering and terrorism financing risks than other countries because it is an international finance and business hub.

Since the money laundering case emerged last year, the government has set up an inter-ministerial panel to review its anti-money laundering regime.

The new bill will also allow law enforcement to investigate money laundering offences linked to overseas environmental crimes.

Currently, Singapore cannot investigate money laundering linked to crimes such as illegal mining, illegal waste trafficking and illegal logging that occur overseas because such crimes are not covered as a serious offence under Singapore law since they typically do not apply in the landscarce city-state.

The bill also makes it easier for law enforcement to sell seized or restrained properties, and deal with seized properties linked to suspects who have fled the country.

The ministry said it will also tighten requirements for casino operators to conduct customer due diligence, bringing down the threshold of a single cash transaction involving S$10,000 ($7,362) or more or S$5,000 or more in a deposit to transactions and deposits involving at least S$4,000.

Last month, Singapore published a national asset recovery strategy report, saying it sought to "deprive criminals of their illicit gains, thereby removing the financial incentive for laundering their monies in Singapore".

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