Written reply to Parliamentary Question on breach of anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism financing rules, and Wirecard scandal
Date: For Parliament Sitting on 5 July 2023
Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Mr Ang Wei Neng, West Coast GRC
Question: To ask the Prime Minister (a) how many financial institutions have been investigated for breaching anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism financing rules in the past five years; (b) how many of these are related to the Wirecard scandal; and (c) what are the additional preventive measures MAS has put in place to minimise anti-money laundering activities following the Wirecard scandal.
Answer by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Senior Minister and Minister in charge of MAS:
1.MAS has strict requirements on Anti-Money Laundering and Countering The Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT), in line with international standards. MAS also actively supervises financial institutions (FIs) for adherence with our requirements and expectations.
2.In the past five years (i.e. from 1 June 2018 to 23 June 2023), a total of 20 investigations were opened against FIs for suspected breaches of MAS’ AML/CFT requirements.
3.Enforcement actions were taken against 17 FIs. The licence of one FI was revoked. Composition penalties were imposed in 14 FIs, including the four recent cases related to the Wirecard scandal. Reprimands were issued to two FIs.
4.Even prior to the Wirecard scandal, MAS’ inspections had covered FIs’ controls against the misuse of legal persons, which was a risk that arose in the Wirecard-related cases. Arising from these supervisory interventions, FIs were already in the process of strengthening their controls.
5.Active collaboration among FIs, the regulator, and law enforcement is essential in the fight against financial crime. MAS and the Commercial Affairs Department works closely with key FIs to share analyses of emerging ML/TF risks and information on specific cases. This partnership has helped identify suspicious accounts and activities and resulted in investigations. We will be able to do more under this partnership when the COSMIC platform (which is short for “Collaborative Sharing of ML/TF Information & Cases”) is implemented in 2H2024. COSMIC will allow participant FIs to securely share information on customers who exhibit suspicious behaviours that signal potential illegal financial activities. This will enhance FIs’ ability to detect and report to authorities suspicious activities earlier and with greater accuracy.