Singapore's Monetary Authority (MAS) has initiated an investigation into whether banks implicated in a $1.75 billion money laundering scandal within the global financial hub took sufficient precautions to mitigate risks.
A spokesperson for MAS stated that if the investigation uncovers shortcomings in the banks' controls, appropriate action will be taken. This move comes in the wake of the recent arrests of 10 foreigners, including individuals from China, by Singaporean authorities in one of the largest anti-money laundering operations. Assets worth $1.75 billion, comprising luxury real estate, cryptocurrencies, and automobiles, were seized.
The scandal has cast doubts on whether the banks in Singapore are rigorously adhering to the city-state's strict anti-money laundering regulations. The MAS spokesperson emphasized that ongoing supervisory engagements with financial institutions are being conducted to evaluate whether they have taken all necessary steps to mitigate money laundering and terrorism financing risks.
The MAS acknowledged that it is still premature to determine whether all financial institutions involved in the scandal have complied with its stringent anti-money laundering and terrorism financing requirements.
Singapore has witnessed a significant influx of assets in recent years, with affluent individuals from Asia and beyond establishing family and trust offices to leverage incentives provided for such setups. According to MAS data, the number of single-family offices, responsible for managing investments, taxation, wealth transfer, and other financial matters for the ultra-wealthy, surged from 400 at the end of 2020 to 1,100 at the close of 2022.
Additionally, the latest figures from MAS reveal that total assets under management in Singapore experienced a 16% increase to $5.4 trillion in 2021, surpassing the global growth rate of 12%, which reached $112 trillion in the same year.
In its official statement on Tuesday, MAS underscored its continued vigilance over the wealth management sector, noting that it had conducted thematic inspections focusing on enhanced due diligence measures, including verification of the sources of wealth and funds. The investigation highlights Singapore's commitment to upholding its reputation as a global financial hub with robust regulatory oversight.
By fLEXI tEAM