Published: 13 April 2015
Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs –
(a) what is the weight limit on the transport of gold and other precious metals in and out of Singapore by individual travellers;
(b) whether diplomats are exempt from this limit, if any;
(c) whether the Police is aware of a diplomat carrying up to 27 kg of gold bars in his luggage on a flight out of Changi Airport in March 2015; and
(d) what measures are in place to ensure that diplomats do not abuse their diplomatic immunity to carry precious metals, drugs or weapons in and out of Singapore in their luggage.
Oral reply by Mr S. Iswaran, Second Minister for Home Affairs and Second Minister for Trade and Industry
1. There is no weight limit on the amount of gold and other precious metals that can be transported in and out of Singapore by travellers. In line with international standards set by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, our measures and controls are focused on the point of sale of such items in Singapore.
2. All precious stones and metal dealers (PSMDs) are required to conduct customer due diligence and file a Cash Transaction Report (CTR) with the Suspicious Transaction Reporting Office when they sell any precious stone, precious metal or precious product to a customer in cash exceeding SGD20,000. This is supplemented by the general suspicious transaction reporting (STR) regime, which requires all persons in Singapore to report any knowledge or reasonable suspicion of criminal conduct which comes to their attention in the course of business or employment.
3. Police is aware of media reports of a case last month where a person allegedly attempted to import gold into another country without making the proper customs declarations, after arriving on a flight originating from Singapore. Police records indicate that the person, who is a foreign diplomat, but not accredited to Singapore, did depart on a flight from Changi Airport where he was screened before boarding and no security threat items were found on him.
4. All diplomats, like other travellers, are screened for threat items before they are allowed on board an aircraft. This involves the use of metal detectors for person checks, and x-ray screening for their belongings. Although the personal baggage of diplomats are generally exempted from inspection under the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic Relations (VCDR), a diplomat's personal baggage will be inspected if there are serious grounds for believing that he is carrying prohibited or controlled items, such as weapons and drugs.