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Singapore Upgrading Anti-Money Laundering Controls

by Mary Swire, Lowtax.net, Hong Kong
21 July, 2014

The Monetary Authority of Singapore has released a consultation paper on proposed amendments to its notices for financial institutions (FIs) on its rules on anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CTF).

It was confirmed that the proposed amendments draw reference from international best practices and the latest recommendations of the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global standard-setter for measures to combat money laundering (ML) and terrorist financing (TF). Many of the proposed changes formalize existing supervisory expectations on and practices for FIs.

MAS regularly updates its AML/CFT regulatory framework to ensure that the supervision of FIs takes into account the latest ML/TF developments. The scope of the amendments will be comprehensive across Singapore's financial sector, and will require FIs to perform an ML/TF risk assessment at a wider institutional level, in addition to assessing the ML/TF risk of individual customers; and elaborate on steps to be taken by FIs to identify and verify beneficial ownership of non-individual customers, such as companies and trusts.

It will also formalize the need for FIs to screen customers and their connected parties; cater for a risk-based approach for certain categories of "Politically Exposed Persons" entrusted with prominent public functions; and put in place additional requirements for cross-border wire transfers exceeding SGD1,500 (USD1,200), such as customer due diligence on occasional transactions.

Taken together, the new measures "will further safeguard Singapore's financial system from being used to launder money or finance terrorism," MAS said.

Ong Chong Tee, Deputy Managing Director, MAS, said: "Singapore is fully committed to keeping our financial center clean and supporting global efforts to combat financial crime. In an evaluation exercise conducted by the FATF in 2008, Singapore was assessed to have a rigorous AML/CFT regime. We will undergo another evaluation by the FATF in 2015 and aim to do as well."

Comments on the public consultation paper should reach MAS by August 14, 2014.

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