Published: 18 September 2023
Mr Patrick Tay Teck Guan: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) how have recent offences including forgery and money laundering with an estimated value of about S$1 billion in cash and various assets come about in such magnitude despite Singapore's robust laws and anti-money laundering frameworks; and (b) what is being done to prevent future recurrence of such cases.
Ms Ng Ling Ling: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) how many suspicious transaction reports have been made by financial institutions about suspicious activities in each of the past three years; and (b) how many of such reports have resulted in the Singapore Police Force mounting a formal investigation.
Mr Mark Lee: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs in light of the recent case of money laundering activities where an estimated value of about one billion dollars in assets are seized (a) what new anti- money laundering initiatives does the Government plan to introduce; and (b) how will the Government ensure that these measures do not inadvertently impede legitimate businesses in Singapore.
Ms Foo Mee Har: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) how will the Government step up check on individuals from high-risk ‘golden passport’ jurisdictions; and (b) whether and how Singapore’s anti- money laundering regime needs to be further tightened.
Ms Usha Chandradas: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) what is the extent to which anti-money laundering checks are conducted on entities before the granting of incentives under section 13D, 13O or 13U of the Income Tax Act 1947; and (b) whether such incentives have been granted to any entities that are associated with the money-laundering case reported on 15 August 2023.
Mr Neil Parekh Nimil Rajnikant: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) what public education programmes are in place for Singaporeans and businesses to avoid falling prey to money laundering and forgery gangs; and (b) what role can the individual trade associations and chambers of commerce play in such public education programmes.
Mr Alex Yam Ziming: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) how many of the properties issued with the prohibition of disposal orders in the $1 billion money laundering probe have restrictions on foreign ownership under the Residential Property Act 1976; and (b) how does the Ministry ensure that private properties in Singapore are not used to launder illicit money.
Mr Alex Yam Ziming: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) how do the security agencies work together to reduce the possibility of individuals entering Singapore under false identities or with criminal intent to conduct cross-border organised crimes; and (b) whether there has been an increase in cross- border organized crimes in the last five years.
Mr Patrick Tay Teck Guan: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs what more can be done to prevent individuals under false identities or with criminal intent to conduct cross-border organised crimes from obtaining work, employment, or dependant passes.
Mr Yip Hon Weng: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) in the past three years, how many money laundering and forgery related cases involving S$ 500 million and above have been reported; (b) whether the number of such cases correspondingly relate to the number of scams reported in Singapore within the same time period; and (c) if so, how does the Singapore Police Force intend to work with other agencies like the Ministry of Communications and Information and MAS to tackle these crimes holistically.
Mr Neil Parekh Nimil Rajnikant: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs what additional steps can be taken to prevent individuals with criminal intent to conduct cross-border organised crimes from obtaining permanent residency under the programmes offered by the Economic Development Board.
Mr Derrick Goh: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) how have the Ministry’s agencies enhanced their AML capabilities; (b) what further improvements will be made; (c) whether there are plans to (i) strengthen the requirements and capabilities of non-banking industries for customer due diligence measures to prevent criminals from converting illegal proceeds into assets and (ii) enhance reporting of suspicious transactions by these industries for timelier intervention; and (d) how will collaboration with foreign authorities be deepened to detect and stem the movement of illegal proceeds into Singapore.
Mr Edward Chia Bing Hui: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) whether there are investigations currently being conducted on donations made to charity fundraising platforms; and (b) what proactive measures will the Charities Unit consider implementing to monitor and address potential fraudulent transactions on such charity fundraising platforms.
Assoc Prof Razwana Begum Abdul Rahim: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs whether the Ministry will consider (i) expanding the digital platform titled “Collaborative Sharing of Money Laundering/Terrorism Financing Information and Cases” (COSMIC) to include information on high- risk transactions reported by entities other than financial institutions and (ii) partnering international financial and inter-governmental institutions outside of Singapore to develop anti-money laundering analytics.
Ms Foo Mee Har: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) how has the recent high-profile money laundering probe affected Singapore’s reputation as a leading wealth management hub; and (b) how does Singapore’s efforts to combat money laundering compare with other leading wealth management jurisdictions such as Hong Kong, Switzerland and the US.
Mr Saktiandi Supaat: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) how does MAS identify suspicious transaction reports to be indicators of a wider network of unlawful activity; (b) whether the existing detection measures in our financial system can be supplemented and enhanced to build our anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing reputation; and (c) how does Singapore’s measures across MAS and other relevant agencies currently compare with other jurisdictions such as the US, UK, Australia, Hong Kong and UAE.
Ms Joan Pereira: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs whether Singapore is working towards full compliance on recommendations 22 and 23 of the Financial Action Task Force for designated non-financial businesses and professions such as real estate agents, dealers of precious metals and stones, legal and accounting professionals and trust and company service providers.
Assoc Prof Razwana Begum Abdul Rahim: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) in the last three years, how many individuals or entities have been investigated for failure to perform customer due diligence measures and internal control measures as per section 67 of the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act 1992; and (b) arising from these investigations, how many individuals or entities have been convicted.
Ms Hany Soh: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs in view of the high-value assets seized during the anti-money laundering (AML) operation conducted on 15 August 2023, whether the Ministry will review current AML laws to determine whether any amendments or enhancements are required to prevent similar cases in future.
Ms Hany Soh: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs in view of the high-value real estate properties seized during the anti-money laundering operation conducted on 15 August 2023, whether the Council of Estate Agencies has reviewed the Customer Due Diligence measures that salespersons are required to undertake on their customers to determine whether the measures are sufficiently robust to prevent recurrences.
Mr Leong Mun Wai: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) what is the immigration status of the ten foreign individuals who have been charged in the S$1 billion money laundering case; and (b) whether foreigners who are convicted of offences are permanently blacklisted from entering Singapore and, if not, why.
Ms Sylvia Lim: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs what is the extent to which Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs) are useful in uncovering suspected money laundering activities.
Mr Desmond Choo: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) how have surveillance and international partnerships between MAS and other regulators helped to prevent and take down money laundering syndicates; and (b) what are the further plans to strengthen Singapore’s anti-money laundering systems.
Assoc Prof Jamus Jerome Lim: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) whether there are practical disparities between the implementation of anti-money laundering (AML) protocols when executed by officers employed in MAS-regulated financial institutions versus real estate agents regulated by the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA); and (b) if so, whether there has been consultation between CEA and MAS to harmonise protocols for AML.
Ms He Ting Ru: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs in the granting of approvals to foreign nationals for the purchase of landed residential property (a) whether the Singapore Land Authority considers the link to money laundering or suspicious financially activity in its assessment; and (b) what are the considerations in being satisfied that the foreign national had made exceptional economic contribution as part of the criteria.
Mr Melvin Yong Yik Chye: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) whether the Ministry has data on the number of individuals who have held directorial and secretarial roles in more than 100 companies concurrently in the past five years; and (b) whether the Ministry will consider imposing a statutory limit on the number of companies a person may hold directorial and secretarial roles in.
Assoc Prof Jamus Jerome Lim: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) whether the Ministry provides quantitative guidelines on anti-money laundering (AML) triggers for suspicious real estate transactions for the share of the proportion of payment made in cash; and (b) if not, why not.
Mr Dennis Tan Lip Fong: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) whether the authorities are satisfied with the effectiveness of Suspicious Transactions Reports (STRs) filed in the past few years; and (b) if not, whether there will be enhancements to improve on the effectiveness of the STR or the early scrutiny of all STRs filed.
Mr Vikram Nair: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) what is the number of suspicious transaction reports (STRs) that have been lodged in relation to money laundering activities for the last three years; (b) how many of the STRs were acted on; and (c) whether any changes need to be made to Singapore's anti-money laundering measures or their enforcement.
Mr Chua Kheng Wee Louis: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) in each of the last five years, what proportion of real estate transactions reported to the Suspicious Transaction Reporting Office have been blocked; and (b) whether more can be done to block such transactions in order to better detect and prevent money laundering, terrorism financing and other serious crimes.
Mr Chua Kheng Wee Louis: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs (a) what forms of background checks are conducted on foreigners and what are the processes that the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) has in place before it grants foreigners the approval to purchase landed residential properties in Sentosa Cove; and (b) whether the SLA will review its processes for conducting such checks.
Assoc Prof Jamus Jerome Lim: To ask the Minister for Home Affairs with regard to the recent anti-money laundering sting operation, whether there were red flag indicators raised before arrests were made.
Ms Sun Xueling, Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Social and Family Development:
1. Many members have filed queries on the recent anti-money laundering operations conducted by the Police and Singapore's anti-money laundering framework. The queries cover a wide range of issues across several ministries. Several members have also filed related queries for the sittings on and after, 19 September. Mr Speaker, with your permission, MHA together with various other Ministries, will respond to the queries comprehensively in a ministerial statement in October. Thank you.