Letters to Editor
Published Date: 30 March 2019

Response to "Questions for MAS on 1MDB" - The Straits Times, 23 March 2019

Dear Editor,

We refer to Professor Sattar Bawany’s letter “Questions for MAS on 1MDB”, (Straits Times, 23 March 2019). Among other things, Professor Bawany asked whether the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) was alerted to 1MDB-related funds being transferred from a Singapore bank to a Malaysian bank account and how much money belonging to 1MDB was currently being held by MAS or authorities in Singapore.

Like most regulators, MAS does not track the funds flowing into and out of banks in Singapore.  To do so, in the absence of an investigation into a possible crime, would be a serious violation of privacy.  It is the responsibility of the banks that are a party to these fund flows to ascertain that these flows are not illicit.  MAS’ role is to supervise the banks on the adequacy and effectiveness of their anti-money laundering controls and to investigate fund flows where there is suspicion of money laundering.

From 2014, MAS carried out a series of supervisory examinations on banks that were suspected to have been used as conduits for 1MDB funds. MAS subsequently shut down BSI Bank and Falcon Private Bank Ltd (the bank from which the fund flows cited by Professor Bawany took place) for egregious breaches of our anti-money laundering rules.  Financial penalties were imposed on eight banks that were found to have weaknesses in anti-money laundering controls. MAS issued prohibition orders that disallowed eight individuals who committed 1MDB-related criminal offences and misconduct from working in the financial industry, for periods ranging from three years up to lifetime. Singapore courts have also convicted five persons on 1MDB-related charges, including money laundering, cheating, forgery and corruption, filed by the Commercial Affairs Department.

Singapore authorities have been providing Malaysia with information on 1MDB-related fund flows since March 2015. In September 2018, Singapore courts ordered the return of S$15.3 million misappropriated from 1MDB to the Malaysian government. Lawyers acting for the Malaysian government are working with Singapore authorities on the return of further assets linked to 1MDB.

We are unable to provide more detailed answers to Professor Bawany’s questions so as to avoid prejudicing ongoing investigations here and in other countries.
Combating money laundering is a priority for MAS. We are firmly committed to safeguarding Singapore as a clean and trusted financial centre. 


Jerome Lee (Mr)
Director (Corporate Communications)
Monetary Authority of Singapore