Singapore still committed to counter money laundering and terrorism financing

Last updated on 5 December 2023

Being a financial hub with an open economy and banking system, Singapore is vulnerable to be used as a base for money laundering and terrorism financing. The recent arrest of more than 10 people involved in laundering more than S$2.8 billion in Singapore is proof of this vulnerability.

The authorities recognise and emphasise that all AML and CFT measures can only work if all players such as banks, registered filing agents and accounting firms in Singapore do their part and be responsible in their roles as points of prevention.

Among the measures that the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) have instituted include requiring corporate secretarial firms providing incorporation services in Singapore to conduct extensive know-your-client checks before accepting a potential client. Information such as beneficial owners and sources of wealth are now routine information that must be gathered before taking on an engagement.

Accounting firms are required to flag suspicious transactions and report them to the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) as well as adopt AML and CFT measures such as the EP100 Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics and the EP200 AML/CFT Requirements and Guidelines for Professional Accountants in Singapore.

Single family offices (SFOs) have also been targeted for tighter restrictions to comply with more stringent AML and CFT checks. According to a Financial Times article, the waiting time for approval of SFOs has increased to 18 months in some cases, up from the usual 9 to 12 months. MAS has identified the SFO sector as a key risk for potential money laundering activities in Singapore and are mulling new regulations to mitigate the risks.

To maintain Singapore’s hard-earned reputation as a safe hub for legitimate businesses,

Singapore is constantly updating and adapting its regulatory framework and legislations to keep up with the rapidly changing tactics of money launderers and terrorist financers. The government is also constantly educating the business community and the public on the ills and consequences of money laundering and terrorism financing.