Singapore Money Laundering Scandal- Total Assets Seized Reach $1.76 bn

September 21, 2023

According to media reports, the total amount of assets seized in the Singapore Money Laundering scandal has reached USD 1.76 bn SG$ 2.4 billion as police uncover more luxury items including, watches, gold bars, and other high-value items.

The major segment of the confiscated assets is constituted by bank accounts worth SG$1.127 billion ($824 million).

Other seized items are as follows.

  • 294 luxury bags
  • 204 electronic devices
  • S$38 Million worth of cryptocurrency
  • Disposal Orders Issued against 110 properties and 62 vehicles valued at $906 million.
  • Other items included bottles of wine and ornaments

On Wednesday, September 20, Singapore Police investigated suspected foreign nationals for their criminal activities like online gambling and other scams.

About Singapore Money Laundering Scandal

The Mega Singapore Money Laundering Scandal which even put the Southeast Asian country’s status as a safe business hub into question has given rise to substantial concerns regarding how organized criminals are exploiting Singapore’s image as a safe haven.

The case first came to the limelight on August 16, when it was revealed that Police had confiscated assets worth S$1 billion followed by a raid on luxurious real estate. On August 22, the court charged 10 foreign nationals from Turkey, China, and Cambodia for their involvement in forgery, and money laundering.

Further investigations have revealed the possible involvement of the financial sector, golf clubs, and precious metals dealers; and this shows how intricacies of counterfeiting and money laundering may involve a multi-sector approach on behalf of criminal gangs. The authorities took some of the substantial steps to further probe the case. Later in August, the Ministry of Law AML/CFT sent notices to the precious metals dealers and asked them to do transactions due diligence to ensure that their customers had no links with money laundering activity.

Many banks were caught up in the Singapore Money Laundering scandal. As Bloomberg reported, funds from unlicensed moneylending in China, and gambling were held in local branches of RHB Bank Bhd.. and Citigroup. Other banks that were likely to be cheated by the criminals through fake documents included Overseas-Chinese Banking Corp., Standard Chartered Plc, and CIMB Bank Bhd.

How Massive Money Laundering Probe in Singapore Was Made Possible?

It appears that due diligence on the part of financial institutions played a major role in busting the Singapore Money Laundering scandal. As MAS (Monetary Authority Singapore) reportedly stated factors like inconsistent information or inability to verify the source of funds along with fake documents made financial institutions raise red flags about the attempts to mainstream illicit finance.

It remains to be seen how Singapore succeeds in maintaining its status as a business haven followed by the money laundering scandal of this nature. The country has some of the stringent Anti Money Laundering Regulations. On September 19, the Monetary Authority Singapore released its 4th Enforcement Report and revealed that $7.88 million in Financial Penalties and Compositions were filed against 13 banks, 4 insurers, 1 capital market services licensee, and 2 individuals between January 2022 to June 2023.