Are we well equipped to fight money laundering?

It is not surprising to read that criminals continue to actively funnel large amounts of dirty money through legitimate banking systems to escape legal detection

However, it is alarming and surprising to read that Singapore is among the list of countries identified and, worse, we are seen to be a major hub for this conduit of such hot money.

Anti-money laundering laws have been in place in Singapore for years, and banks are required to familiarise themselves with them.

Consequently, if it is true that Singapore is a major site of money laundering, it raises the following fundamental questions on Singapore's banking laws and practices:

How robust are our anti-money laundering laws?

How closely are the banks operating in Singapore complying with the laws?

Are the banks fully equipped to check and clear every customer of any associated risk of money laundering?

How effective is the enforcement by our regulatory body?

Are there sufficient punishments to "crack the whip" on banks which are slack in their internal supervision and monitoring?

These billions of dollars of hot monies are derived from illicit drug trafficking, corruption, terrorism and other criminal activities.

As an international financial centre, Singapore cannot be slack in the discharge of its anti-money laundering duties.

While the report links this unhealthy situation to the fuelling of the booming Australian property market, are we sure this is not also a major reason for the Singapore property boom?

I hope the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the banks operating locally all play their part to ensure we eliminate or minimise such incidents.

To successfully fight this war on global money laundering, we need total co-operation at all levels.

Raymond Koh Bock Swi

This article was first published on May 28, 2015.
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