Singapore prosecuted a record number
of money laundering cases and seized more than S$115 million
($92 million) of suspected criminal proceeds in 2013 as more
overseas offenders seek out bank accounts in the city.
“Singapore’s openness as an international transport hub
and financial center exposes it to cross-border money-laundering
and terrorist financing risks,” Tan Boon Gin, director of the
Commercial Affairs Department, said in the agency’s annual
report posted on its website. “We are seeing a trend of
overseas criminals seeking to launder money through Singapore
The city’s white-collar police has tripled its financial
investigation resources with an increase in suspicious
transaction reports and aid requests from overseas enforcement
agencies. Organized crime groups are getting more sophisticated
and taking advantage of opportunities as Singapore’s financial
industry expands, the agency said.
The agency received 22,417 suspicious transactions reports
in 2013, a 25 percent increase from a year earlier, according to
the report. It provided financial intelligence to foreign
agencies in 341 instances, up from 160 in 2012. The financial
police received 164 overseas requests for assistance. More than
S$65 million of suspected criminal proceeds were seized in the
preceding year, according to the agency’s 2012 annual report.
Li Huabo, a former Chinese government official accused of a
94 million yuan ($15 million) fraud in his home country, was
sentenced to 15 months in jail after the suspicious transaction
reporting unit received information on remittances into their
Singapore bank accounts, according to the report. Li is
appealing his verdict.
Singapore is boosting its anti-money laundering rules in
line with global regulations following U.S. authorities’ probe
of several Swiss banks for their dealings on behalf of American
clients. The Asian city plans to regulate virtual-currency
intermediaries including operators of Bitcoin exchanges and
vending machines to address money laundering risks and may boost
rules for remittance agents and money changers.
The Commercial Affairs Department has also set up a unit to
investigate fraud where the victim is a public company as recent
events in the stock market suggest an increase in the scale and
complexity of market abuse.
The white-collar agency and the central bank are
investigating suspected share-trading irregularities after a
penny stock rout in October erased $6.9 billion in market value.
The enforcement scope of the agency will also increase with
Singapore’s plan to criminalize the rigging of financial
benchmarks, the police said.
To contact the reporter on this story:
Andrea Tan in Singapore at
To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Douglas Wong at
Linus Chua, Tomoko Yamazaki
Singapore Says More Overseas Criminals Seek Bank Accounts