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Singapore Introduces New Bill to Strengthen Prosecution of Money Laundering Offences

Singapore is aiming to simplify the prosecution of money laundering offenses in the city-state, according to the home affairs ministry. This initiative follows the ministry's observation that some cases are currently not pursued unless there is clear evidence of the complete money trail of suspected laundered funds entering the Asian financial hub.

Singapore Introduces New Bill to Strengthen Prosecution of Money Laundering Offences

The newly introduced Anti-Money Laundering and Other Matters Bill, presented to parliament on Tuesday, will eliminate the need for the prosecution to demonstrate a direct connection between the criminal conduct and the laundered funds, as stated by the home affairs ministry in a press release.

“It will be sufficient for the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the money launderer knew or had reasonable grounds to believe that he was dealing with criminal proceeds,” the ministry explained. This change is expected to aid in prosecuting money mules, especially when laundered funds have passed through bank accounts and intermediaries in foreign jurisdictions.

Last year, Singapore dismantled a $2.24 billion money laundering ring operated by foreign nationals, with the last of ten offenders sentenced on June 10. The criminals had held money from overseas scams and online gambling in Singaporean bank accounts, converting some into real estate, cars, handbags, and jewelry.

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Prime Minister Lawrence Wong stated last month that Singapore faces higher money laundering and terrorism financing risks than other countries due to its status as an international finance and business hub. Following the money laundering case from last year, the government has established an inter-ministerial panel to review its anti-money laundering framework.

The new bill will also empower law enforcement to investigate money laundering offenses related to overseas environmental crimes. Currently, Singapore cannot probe money laundering linked to crimes such as illegal mining, illegal waste trafficking, and illegal logging occurring overseas, as these are not classified as serious offenses under Singaporean law, given their limited relevance in the land-scarce city-state.

Additionally, the bill will facilitate law enforcement in selling seized or restrained properties and managing seized properties linked to suspects who have fled the country. The ministry also plans to tighten requirements for casino operators to conduct customer due diligence, lowering the threshold for a single cash transaction from S$10,000 ($7,362) or more, or S$5,000 or more in a deposit, to transactions and deposits involving at least S$4,000.

Last month, Singapore published a national asset recovery strategy report, stating its goal to “deprive criminals of their illicit gains, thereby removing the financial incentive for laundering their monies in Singapore.”



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