26 Mar 2019

Commencement of the Serious Crimes and Counter Terrorism (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act on 1 Apr 2019

1.     The Serious Crimes and Counter Terrorism (Miscellaneous Amendments) Act (“Act”), which was passed in Parliament on 19 November 2018, will come into force on 1 April 2019. The Act amends the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act (“CDSA”) and the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act (“TSOFA”). The changes strengthen our anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing frameworks to more effectively tackle such offences, which are usually complex and transnational in nature. These changes took reference from the international norms set by the Financial Action Task Force (“FATF”), an inter-governmental body that sets standards and promotes effective implementation of the measures to combat money laundering and terrorism financing.  They ensure that our laws remain relevant to the current operating landscape, and provides the necessary legislative powers to quickly detect and neutralise criminal and terrorist operations, and deprive perpetrators of illicit funds.

 

2.     The key provisions of the Act are summarised below:

 

(a)  Strengthen the Government’s Ability to Enforce and Prosecute Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing Offences

 

3.     A new money laundering offence was introduced in the CDSA to criminalise the possession or use of property reasonably suspected of being criminal proceeds, if the accused cannot satisfactorily account for it.

 

4.     For money laundering cases involving overseas crimes, the Act will allow the Courts to decide on the basis of evidence presented by the Prosecution that a drug dealing or serious offence had indeed been committed in the overseas jurisdiction, without having to rely on foreign governments or experts. This will facilitate the prosecution of these cases.

 

5.     The Act also amends the TSOFA to expand the scope of prohibited activities to include the financing of the overseas travel of an individual to any place to provide or receive any training in facilitating or carrying out any terrorist act. This will align our laws with obligations under the UN Security Council Resolution 2178.

 

(b)  Enhance Penalties for Offences Relating to Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing

 

6.     The Act increases the maximum fines for money laundering and terrorism financing offences committed by entities. This will allow the Courts the discretion to impose fines that better commensurate with the value of the property/proceeds of crime involved, for greater deterrence.


  • For money laundering offences under the CDSA, the maximum fines will be increased from $1 million to the higher of: a) $1 million or b) twice the value of the property involved or the benefits of drugs dealing/criminal conduct.

 

  • For terrorism financing offences under the TSOFA, the maximum fines will be similarly increased from $1 million to the higher of: (a) $1 million or (b) twice the value of the property involved or services rendered for terrorism financing.

 

7.     The maximum penalties for the following offences under the CDSA will be raised for greater deterrence:


  • For failing to file a Suspicious Transaction Report (STR) with the Suspicious Transaction Reporting Office (STRO) of the Commercial Affairs Department when one has reason to suspect that a property is linked to a drug dealing or serious offence: raised from a fine of $20,000 to (a) a fine of $250,000 and three years’ imprisonment for individuals, and (b) a fine of $500,000 for entities.

 

  • For tipping off another person of a CDSA-related investigation or an STR filed with the STRO: raised from a fine of $30,000 to (a) a fine of $250,000 and three years’ imprisonment for individuals, and (b) a fine of $250,000 for entities.    

 

8.     The amended CDSA also provides for a wider range of penalties for breaches of Singapore’s cross-border cash reporting requirements. For an individual who has brought into, or out of Singapore more than $20,000 of cash and bearer negotiable instruments, but failed to report to the Immigration officer, the Police will have powers to compound the offence and offer composition fines of up to $20,000. The Courts can also order the confiscation of any undeclared amount above $20,000, on conviction.

 

(c) Facilitate Sharing of Financial Intelligence with Jurisdictions under International Arrangement

 

9.     With the amendments to the CDSA, the STRO will be able to exchange financial intelligence with more than 150 Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) of overseas jurisdictions which have endorsed the Egmont Charter and Principles for Information Exchange, which is an international arrangement to enhance cooperation between FIUs.

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