Reply to Parliamentary Question on the “Russian Laundromat” money-laundering scheme

QUESTION NO 715

NOTICE PAPER 987 OF 2017

FOR WRITTEN ANSWER

Date: For Parliament Sitting on 8 January 2018

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Ms Sylvia Lim, MP, Aljunied GRC

Question:

To ask the Prime Minister whether there is any ongoing investigation by Singapore authorities into the alleged roles of several Singapore banks in a money-laundering scheme dubbed by the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project in 2014 as "The Russian Laundromat".

Answer by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in charge of MAS:

1   Ms Sylvia Lim asked about an article published by the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), an international non-governmental organisation (NGO) consortium, on what it dubbed “the Russian Laundromat”. The article charged that US$20.8b from 19 Russian banks was laundered between 2011 and 2014, using banks in 96 countries.

2   The article stated that US$77m (or 0.4%) of the allegedly laundered monies had flowed into the accounts held in banks in Singapore.  It also stated that US$927m had flowed into banks in Hong Kong, US$916m into mainland China, and US$608m into Switzerland. 

3   Singapore is a global business and financial centre that sees substantial financial flows daily into and out of the country. To put the total US$77m that was allegedly laundered through Singapore into perspective, the banking system saw US$357b of  financial flows in total over the same period. MAS nevertheless takes a serious view of any alleged money laundering through Singapore, small or large.

4   MAS’ probe into the specific OCCRP allegations has not been completed. It has thus far not surfaced evidence of major lapses in AML controls at banks in Singapore. Where the banks detected suspicious activities relating to the flows in question, they had taken appropriate risk-mitigating measures.

5   To reiterate, we are constantly vigilant against the threat of money laundering. That is why we have put in place a robust Anti-Money Laundering/Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regime. Financial institutions are required to conduct, amongst other things, adequate customer due diligence. This includes rejecting suspicious customers, closely monitoring fund flows, and reporting any suspicious transactions.

6   As money laundering schemes are increasingly complex and cross-border in nature, international cooperation is critical in identifying, disrupting, and detering illicit activities. MAS and Singapore’s law enforcement agencies have been exchanging information and working with their foreign counterparts to investigate suspicious schemes.

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Last Modified on 08/01/2018