Parliamentary Replies
Published Date: 12 July 2016

Reply to Parliamentary Question on additional measures to enhance anti-money laundering compliance by financial institutions




Date: For Parliament Sitting on 11 July 2016

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Mr Ong Teng Koon, MP, Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC


To ask the Prime Minister what additional measures are being taken to enhance anti-money laundering compliance by financial institutions in the wake of the withdrawal of BSI's merchant banking licence.

Answer by Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for National Development on behalf of Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in charge of MAS:
1   As Singapore’s financial centre grows in scale and sophistication, we have to be vigilant against the risk of its abuse for illicit financing activities. Indeed, all international financial and business centres face the risk of being used as a conduit for money laundering and terrorist financing activities. Singapore has taken this risk very seriously, and we have in recent years significantly enhanced our  regime for tackling money laundering and illicit financing risks. 

2   Our regime against money laundering comprises four key elements: strict regulations, rigorous supervision, effective enforcement, and good cross-border co-operation.

3   Financial institutions are the critical gatekeepers against the flow of illicit funds.  We therefore require financial institutions to comply with strict anti-money laundering regulations, and to have in place robust controls to detect and deter illicit activities. More recent measures taken to strengthen our regime include (i) criminalizing the laundering of serious tax offences; (ii) enhancing MAS’ Notices and Guidelines in line with evolving international standards; and (iii) stepping up inspections of financial institutions.

4   MAS will not hesitate to take firm actions against financial institutions whose anti-money laundering controls are found to be lacking. As Mr Ong had pointed out, MAS decided to withdraw the merchant bank status of BSI Bank for recurrent and serious breaches of anti-money laundering control requirements, and has referred six members of the bank’s senior management and staff to the Public Prosecutor. Our regulatory and law enforcement agencies also share information and co-operate closely with their foreign counterparts.

5   We are also making organisational changes so as to enhance MAS’ supervisory focus and effectiveness at a time of increasing sophistication of illegal money flows globally.  MAS will consolidate supervisory responsibilities relating to money laundering and other illicit financing risks in a dedicated department. MAS will also have a new enforcement department that will work closely with Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) to investigate money laundering and other financial market offences.