Published: 06 October 2020
Ms Foo Mee Har: To ask the Prime Minister (a) what has been the progress made by Singapore banks in combating money laundering over the last 10 years; (b) what has been the effectiveness of suspicious transaction reports filed by Singapore's financial institutions in detecting illicit activities; and (c) how well does Singapore collaborate with overseas authorities to seize such funds and disrupt criminal activities.
1. MAS shared in a written reply to questions 101 and 102 appearing in the Order Paper for the sitting on 5 October 2020, on how banks in Singapore have improved their anti-money laundering (AML) controls over the years, under MAS’ close supervision.
2. Suspicious transactions reports (STRs) filed by Singapore’s financial institutions are an important part of these controls. The volume of STRs has increased significantly, from 12,000 in 2010 to 32,000 in 2019, a positive development. Of the STRs filed in 2019, 13% directly led to initiation of or supported investigations. In a recent case, Police successfully uncovered and prosecuted an insider fraud involving more than $1.9 million, pursuant to a STR filed by a bank.
3. Our law enforcement agencies have close working relationships with their foreign counterparts. We have collaborated in several complex transnational investigations to intercept criminal proceeds, disrupt the criminal syndicates and bring the criminals to justice.
4. In March 2020, the Police seized more than $6.4 million in a transnational money laundering case related to Covid-19 medical supplies, within one day of receiving the intelligence. In 2018, the Police returned more than $27 million in criminal proceeds to the Chinese authorities. These monies were linked to one of the biggest Ponzi schemes in China, which saw 1.15 million investors cheated out of $7 billion. These seizures were the result of Police’s money laundering investigations.
5. Since 2017, the Police have also conducted more than 10 joint operations with their overseas counterparts, in jurisdictions such as Malaysia, Hong Kong, Macau and China, to disrupt criminal syndicates conducting online scams targeting Singapore residents and laundering their ill-gotten gains out of Singapore. These operations resulted in the arrest of more than 120 syndicate members worldwide, with 7 extradited to Singapore for criminal prosecution.