Reply to Parliamentary Question on cryptocurrency investment companies setting up operations and measures in place to prevent money laundering and fraud
QUESTION NO 2192
NOTICE PAPER 1393 OF 2022
FOR WRITTEN ANSWER
Date: For Parliament Sitting on 04 October 2022
Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Mr Yip Hon Weng, MP, Yio Chu Kang SMC
To ask the Prime Minister in view of Singapore opening up to cryptocurrency in the last two years (a) whether there is an influx of businessmen interested in setting up cryptocurrency investment companies in Singapore; and (b) what are the safeguards to prevent money laundering operators and fraudsters from setting up such businesses here.
Answer by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister and Minister in charge of MAS:
1. In Singapore, as in other jurisdictions, not all activities related to digital payment tokens (“DPT”) - referred to as cryptocurrencies - are regulated. A company that provides a service which involves buying, selling or facilitating the exchange of DPTs would be regulated under the Payment Services Act 2019 (PS Act). MAS would not have information on the number of parties interested in setting up cryptocurrency investment companies in Singapore unless they apply for a license from MAS.
2. MAS’ regulation under the PS Act focuses on money laundering and terrorism financing risks and technology risks. It administers a rigorous licensing process to ensure that we admit DPT service providers with strong governance structures and robust controls to address these risks. Many applicants have been turned away. Where MAS has reason to suspect that an applicant is involved in illicit activities, MAS will, besides rejecting the application, refer the matter to the Police for investigation.
3. MAS also conducts surveillance to identify unlicensed firms that illegally provide DPT services or solicit customers in Singapore. It will instruct these entities to stop offering services to Singapore residents and refer them to the Police for investigation. MAS may also place them on its Investor Alert List to warn the public that these entities are not supervised by MAS.
4. MAS also works closely with the Police to combat cryptocurrency scams. MAS and the Police have issued public advisories alerting consumers to guard against fraudulent websites soliciting cryptocurrency investments. When dealing with cryptocurrency firms, consumers should check if the entities are licensed or have been granted an exemption to hold a licence by referring to MAS’ website.