Singapore responds to Pandora Papers by mulling changes to AML/CFT controls

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is consulting with the country’s financial institutions as it mulls possible changes to its anti-money laundering and counter financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime in the light of revelations in the so-called Pandora Papers according to finance minister Lawrence Wong.

He was responding to parliamentary questions about the leaked documents analysed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and other journalists that revealed 336 prominent individuals across the world established offshore structures to hold assets, assisted by 14 service providers operating in at least 38 jurisdictions.

Two of the 14 service providers are foreign-incorporated trust companies with subsidiaries in Singapore that are licensed and regulated by MAS. Some ICIJ media reports also mentioned that many of these individuals had foreign bank accounts linked to these structures in various financial centres including Singapore.

Tightening controls

Based on MAS’ assessment and information available thus far, Wong says the Pandora Papers have not raised significant concerns over the Singaporean financial institutions’ AML/CFT controls.

“Nevertheless, MAS is engaging the relevant financial institutions to assess if tightening of controls are warranted,” he said.

Constantly monitoring

Wong, who is also deputy chairman of MAS, says the authority is constantly on guard against the risk of illicit financing activities and continually monitors and analyses information from a wide range of sources as part of its surveillance of money laundering and terrorism financing risks.

This includes suspicious transactions reports filed by financial institutions as well as information from intelligence sources, including those abroad, and publicly available information such as from independent investigations and media reports.

MAS on the case

Two licensed trust companies with operations in Singapore were already “under intense scrutiny before they were named in the Pandora Papers” according to Wong.

One of them, Asia  City Trust Singapore, paid a composition penalty of US$1.1 million imposed by MAS in July last year for its failure to implement adequate AML/CFT policies and procedures.

The other, Trident Trust Company Singapore, was directed by MAS in September last year to remediate weaknesses detected in its risk assessment controls during MAS’ supervisory surveillance.


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