Reply to Parliamentary Question on Singapore's Response to Financial Action Task Force's Report on Money Laundering and Illegal Wildlife Trade
QUESTION NO 282
NOTICE PAPER 144 OF 2020
FOR WRITTEN ANSWER
Date: For Parliament Sitting on 2 November 2020
Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Mr Louis Ng Kok Kwang, MP, Nee Soon GRC
To ask the Prime Minister (a) what is the Government's response to the Financial Action Task Force's (FATF) report on Money Laundering and the Illegal Wildlife Trade; and (b) what steps does the Government intend to take to address the findings in the report.
Answer by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister and Minister in charge of MAS:
1. Illegal wildlife trade (IWT) is a transnational crime. As IWT generates criminal proceeds for their perpetrators, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) report that Mr Louis Ng refers to does focus on combatting money laundering (ML) linked to IWT.
2. Singapore was in fact a member of the project team for the report and supports its recommendations. We contributed case studies to support the FATF deliberations.
3. Our whole of government approach is consistent with the recommendations in the FATF report. Several agencies, including the Commercial Affairs Department, National Parks Board and the Monetary Authority of Singapore work together to combat ML linked to IWT. Let me elaborate.
4. We have enacted laws and regulations that target IWT and associated ML.
a. Under the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act (ESA) and the Wildlife Act (WA), it is an offence to trade wildlife without the requisite permits.
b. The laundering of proceeds for ESA and WA offences is an ML offence under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act.
5. Singapore enforces these laws robustly. The relevant agencies regularly exchange information, typologies and intelligence, and coordinate on joint operations and training. They have also formed close working relationships with foreign counterparts. Through this close collaboration, Singapore has intercepted shipments and achieved several successful seizures of illegal wildlife cargo. These actions have disrupted criminal syndicates and prevented them from benefitting from the proceeds of IWT.
6. Public-private partnerships also play an important role in our efforts to combat IWT and ML. We have enhanced the collective understanding of IWT risks by sharing case studies and red flag indicators with banks, traders, and agents that apply for trade permits. This has helped them to better detect and report suspicious fund flows linked to IWT.
7. While we have made a number of prosecutions for IWT over the years, there has been no indication that there are major IWT syndicates operating out of Singapore. In the investigations, we have also not found ML linked to IWT occurring in or connected to Singapore.
8. Notwithstanding, we will continue to be vigilant to the threat posed by IWT and related ML.