Cen­tral bank steps up fight against money laun­der­ing

The Myanmar Times - - International Business -

SIN­GA­PORE'S cen­tral bank yes­ter­day for­mally launched a unit to fight money laun­der­ing, strength­en­ing the fi­nan­cial hub's safe­guards against il­licit fund flows.

Of­fi­cials of the Mone­tary Author­ity of Sin­ga­pore (MAS) have said plans to cre­ate the spe­cial unit pre­dated a con­tin­u­ing scan­dal in­volv­ing state fund 1MDB in neigh­bour­ing Malaysia and banks op­er­at­ing in Sin­ga­pore.

"But these re­cent de­vel­op­ments have in­deed un­der­scored the mer­its of bring­ing to­gether su­per­vi­sory re­sources from across MAS to give a cen­tralised fo­cus on com­bat­ing money laun­der­ing," a spokesman for the MAS said in June when it an­nounced the cre­ation of the unit.

Sin­ga­pore last year opened an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into fund flows linked to 1MDB. In May it ex­pelled Switzer­land's BSI Bank for "gross mis­con­duct" re­lated to the Malaysian fund.

Last month Sin­ga­pore re­vealed it had seized nearly US$180 mil­lion in as­sets through its in­ves­ti­ga­tions into sus­pected fraud and money-laun­der­ing linked to 1MDB.

Half those as­sets were con­nected to Low Taek Jho, a Malaysian busi­ness­man close to Malaysian Prime Min­is­ter Na­jib Razak.

The MAS yes­ter­day con­firmed it was ex­am­in­ing the ex­tent of Gold­man Sachs Sin­ga­pore's in­volve­ment in 1MDB bond deals.

US reg­u­la­tors have is­sued sub­poe­nas to the Amer­i­can in­vest­ment bank ask­ing for doc­u­ments re­lated to its deal­ings with 1MDB.

"As our fi­nan­cial cen­tre grows in scale, so­phis­ti­ca­tion, and con­nec­tiv­ity, so does the risk of crim­i­nal el­e­ments abus­ing our fi­nan­cial sys­tem," MAS man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Ravi Menon said in June.

"We will strengthen our su­per­vi­sion of fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions’ con­trols to com­bat money laun­der­ing and il­licit fi­nanc­ing. And we will en­hance our en­force­ment ca­pa­bil­ity to de­ter poor con­trols or crim­i­nal be­hav­iour in the in­dus­try."

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