Singapore grapples with massive US$740 million money laundering scandal

Image via Bangkok Post.

Singapore is grappling with one of its largest-ever money laundering cases, involving over S$1 billion (US$740 million) of assets. Individuals, recently arrested and charged, allegedly held millions from unauthorised lending in China and illicit gambling in numerous banks such as United Overseas Bank, Citigroup and RHB Bank’s local units. Attempted fraud using counterfeit documents was also reported on banks including Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp, Standard Chartered and CIMB Bank.

This scandal has drawn in a wide range of organisations from banks to golf clubs and precious metals dealers, prompting concerns about the robustness of measures against illegal money entering this significant global financial hub.

The accused reportedly invested their unlawful proceeds in luxury assets, including cars and Tether stablecoins. One individual allegedly purchased a luxury condominium near the city’s prime shopping area for S$23 million. Some are also purported to have held millions in safe deposit boxes with Certis Cisco Security Pte, a company supported by the state investor, Temasek Holdings.

Out of the ten people taken into custody, most faced additional charges during a court hearing yesterday. Authorities have previously stated they are requesting documents from at least ten financial institutions in connection with the case.

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Singapore has a history of scandals involving considerable money flows from 1MDB, the Malaysian state fund, and the German firm, Wirecard. These controversies resulted in financiers being banned, people imprisoned, and banks penalised for insufficient controls.

In May, Singaporean lawmakers approved a bill that authorised banks to share information about potentially risky clients. Meanwhile, DBS Group, the country’s largest bank, and Bank of Singapore, the private banking division of OCBC, are both creditors to investment firms associated with two of the accused individuals, reported Bangkok Post.

DBS and Bank of Singapore’s associated investment firms have office addresses in Singapore’s business district. Furthermore, the two directors facing charges have residential addresses in high-end properties. A DBS spokesperson pledged the bank would continue to prevent Singapore from becoming a haven for criminals, while a Citi spokesperson affirmed the bank’s commitment to maintaining the highest standard of governance and controls.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore has announced it is undertaking “supervisory engagements” with financial companies where potentially tainted funds have been identified and will take “firm action” against those found to have breached anti-money laundering and related rules.

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Alex Morgan

Alex is a 42-year-old former corporate executive and business consultant with a degree in business administration. Boasting over 15 years of experience working in various industries, including technology, finance, and marketing, Alex has acquired in-depth knowledge about business strategies, management principles, and market trends. In recent years, Alex has transitioned into writing business articles and providing expert commentary on business-related issues. Fluent in English and proficient in data analysis, Alex strives to deliver well-researched and insightful content to readers, combining practical experience with a keen analytical eye to offer valuable perspectives on the ever-evolving business landscape.

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