Published: 13 July 2015
1. The Organised Crime Bill was introduced for First Reading in Parliament today.
2. Organised criminal groups (OCGs) can pose a serious threat to our safety and security. OCGs are involved in serious criminal activities that may include drug trafficking, money laundering and unlicensed moneylending. These activities are often transnational in nature, with criminal groups operating across several countries and often times, with the leaders operating from outside Singapore. While the situation in Singapore is under control, the experiences of other countries have demonstrated the need to act pre-emptively and decisively to prevent OCGs from establishing a foothold here.
Organised Crime Bill
3. The Bill strengthens the ability of law enforcement agencies (LEAs), such as the SPF and CNB, to prevent and disrupt activities of OCGs. It will allow the authorities to deter and tackle organised crime at all levels - from the highest echelons of OCGs who mastermind or finance the activities, to members of OCGs who carry out these criminal activities.
4. The Bill will criminalise involvement in organised crime activities, provide for the Courts to issue Preventive Orders to constrain the activities of OCGs, and introduce a civil confiscation regime that targets the benefits derived from organised crime.
5. The Bill will have extra-territorial coverage to tackle the transnational nature of organised crime. It will cover (a) persons in Singapore who are involved in OCG-related activities; and (b) persons overseas who are involved in OCG-related activities which result in harm in Singapore.
6. In developing this Bill, the Ministry of Home Affairs studied the laws and practices of other jurisdictions, such as the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UN Convention on Transnational Organised Crime. MHA also held consultations with the Judiciary and legal fraternity on the key features of the Bill.
7. The key provisions of the Bill are as follows:
a) Criminalise OCG-related activities
The Bill will criminalise OCG-related activities, such as instructing a person to commit offences for an OCG, giving help to an OCG, recruitment of members and being an OCG member. Those who commit serious crimes, such as drug trafficking and corruption, as part of an OCG, will also be subjected to enhanced penalties.
b) Introduce Preventive Orders to constrain activities of OCGs
The Bill will provide for Preventive Orders to be made by the Courts to constrain the activities of OCGs. These are:
1. Disqualification Orders, which prohibit individuals involved in organised crime activities from acting as a director of a company;
2. Financial Reporting Orders (FRO), which require individuals involved in organised crime activities to submit financial reports; and
3. Organised Crime Preventive Orders (OCPO), which place restrictions on the activities of an individual or organisation involved in organised crime activities. The OCPO and FRO can be issued under a conviction regime (upon a criminal conviction) or a non-conviction regime (through a civil proceeding without a criminal conviction). Only the High Court can issue these Orders under the non-conviction regime.
c) Introduce a Civil Confiscation (CC) regime
The Bill will introduce a non-conviction based regime to confiscate the benefits from organised crime activity. This regime is similar to the conviction-based regime for the confiscation of benefits from drug trafficking or serious offences under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act. Civil confiscation does not require a criminal conviction. A person's benefits from organised crime activity can be confiscated under the civil confiscation regime if the Public Prosecutor is able to prove, on a balance of probabilities, that the person has carried out organised crime activity. All civil confiscation proceedings will be heard in the High Court. Jurisdictions such as Australia and New Zealand have similar regimes.
d) Empower LEAs to gather information on OCGs
The Bill will introduce enhanced investigative powers for LEAs to investigate and obtain information from the Comptroller of Income Tax and the Comptroller of Goods and Services Tax. LEAs can also apply to the High Court for examination orders against persons who can provide information of value to civil proceedings relating to OCPO, FRO or CC.
8. In summary, the Bill will criminalise and punish persons who carry out activities in support of OCGs. It will allow LEAs to tackle organised crime threats decisively by strengthening their powers to detect and investigate into OCGs, curtail and dismantle these criminal groups and deprive them of their ill-gotten gains.
MINISTRY OF HOME AFFAIRS
13 July 2015