SINGAPORE, Oct 3 – Singapore said it was expecting more arrests and seizures as the Asian financial hub investigates one of its biggest cases of money laundering, in which the value of assets seized now stands at S$2.8 billion ($2 billion).
Simultaneous raids in mid-August by authorities of the city state known for its low crime rate led to the arrest of 10 foreigners and the seizure of luxury properties, cars, gold bars, designer handbags and jewellery worth S$1 billion.
“This case is a reminder that even the most stringent preventive measures can be circumvented by determined criminals,” Josephine Teo, the second minister for home affairs, told parliament on Tuesday.
The government would set up an inter-ministerial panel to review the anti-money laundering regime, reflecting learning points drawn from the case, she added.
But Singapore’s arrests and investigations showed its system was able to detect suspicious individuals and activities, Teo said.
She was one of three cabinet ministers responding to almost 60 questions filed by lawmakers on the case.
The government said it was inspecting financial institutions involved in the case and would launch enforcement action against any of them, and their staff, found to have breached central bank requirements.
The case had been on the radar of police since 2021, after the filing of suspicious transaction reports by financial institutions, Teo said.
She dismissed as “completely untrue” rumours that pressure from authorities in China had spurred efforts to roll up the operation.
“We started investigations because we suspected that offences had been committed in Singapore,” Teo added. “Once we confirmed our suspicions, we acted.”
Reporting by Xinghui Kok; Editing by Martin Petty and Clarence Fernandez
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Xinghui leads the Singapore bureau, directing coverage of one of the region’s bellwether economies and Southeast Asia’s main financial hub. This ranges from macroeconomics to monetary policy, property, politics, public health and socioeconomic issues. She also keeps an eye on things that are unique to Singapore, such as how it repealed an anti-gay sex law but goes against global trends by maintaining policies unfavourable to LGBT families. https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/even-singapore-lifts-gay-sex-ban-lgbt-families-feel-little-has-changed-2022-11-29/
Xinghui previously covered Asia for the South China Morning Post and has been in journalism for a decade.
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