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Singaporean regulatory authorities officials accused lax immigration policies of large inflows of dirty money into Singapore’s mainstream economy and have called for tightened immigration laws as a preventative measure.
Singapore Police seized $2 billion in one of the city-state’s most significant money laundering investigations, and regualtory officials accused the inadequate immigration process and anti-money laundering (AML) measures. They stated to prevent a country from illicit funds, tight immigration policies are needed. The Second Minister of Home Affairs, Josephine Teo, also claimed the laundered money is more than $2b, which was previously disclosed in the parliament. She also added that the investigation is ongoing, and Singaporean Police are interviewing national or international residents to check how much the immigration policies are adequate and what shortcomings to overcome. Teo, who also heads the Ministry for Communications and Information, stated, “No screening process is fool-proof. Singapore takes money laundering seriously. We do not turn a blind eye to any risks, once we become aware of them. This is not the first time that we have taken serious enforcement action against money laundering offences. Nor will it be the last.”
Singapore’s investigation committee also said they expect more money laundering arrests. The government will design an inter-ministerial panel to review AML measures of the financial institutes and learn from this case. The investigation committee, composed of central bank political officers and the ministries of jurisdictions, home office, law, as well as manpower, and the second minister of finance, Indranee Rajah, would lead the committee.
Singapore has long created its reputation for ethical leadership and zero tolerance towards crime, especially pertaining to financial crime and money laundering, that tends to attract wealthy international investors. That came under scrutiny when the authorities confiscated property and detained 10 foreigners from China on suspicion of forgery and laundering money obtained through corruption and unlawful crypto gambling. This case destroyed the country’s reputation in the international market and blocked the $2 trillion investment into the financial sector. Singapore, behind Switzerland and Hong Kong, serves as the third-largest international financial centre, with money inflows exceeding $1.5 trillion in the past year.
Toe also stated that rigorous policies from the authorities seizing innocents “most people are not illegal money launderers or criminals. if the rules are too tight, the vast majority of innocent applicants will be unnecessarily penalised.” Countries international banks are closing the client’s accounts from citizenship of China, Turkey, Cyprus, and Vanuatu.