Singapore’s MAS to scrutinize Credit Suisse, others amid massive money laundering scandal

October 18, 2023

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will carry out on-site inspection of Credit Suisse Group AG, along with other banks following the exposure of the money laundering scandal. At least one of the bank’s clients was charged for a money laundering scandal that has sent shockwaves through the city-state.

According to Bloomberg News, Singapore’s financial regulatory officials plan to inspect documents and conduct interviews with staff members from Credit Suisse and other banks in a matter of weeks.

The inspection serves the aim to ascertain whether the local unit of Credit Suisse is properly managing the surveillance of well-to-do clients. The planned investigation emphasizes the gravity of the scandal that has implicated a minimum of 10 local and international banks in the Asian financial epicenter.

It’s not the first time Credit Suisse is facing probe for possible involvement in money laundering, Switzerland’s Federal Criminal Court declared Credit Suisse and a former employee guilty in the verdict of the country’s first criminal trial involving one of its major. As a result Credit Suisse was charged with $2.1 million along with suspension of a former employee with 20-month prison sentence and fine for money laundering.

Possible role of financial institutions in Singapore money laundering scandal

One of the many questions being raised about the Singapore money laundering scandal is about the possible role of financial institutions. There were concerns if negligence on part of financial institutions assisted criminals hiding illicit wealth in any way. However, no banks were named in earlier investigations.

However, according to media reports, several big local and international banks are finding themselves entangled in one of the country’s massive money laundering scandals.

It was discovered in the court hearing that one of the suspects also attempted to dupe Standard Chartered Bank by means of counterfeit documents. The list of financial institutions linked to the money laundering scandal includes Malaysia’s CIMB Bank, Citigroup’s local subsidiary and Deutsche Bank, reported The Strait Times.

About Singapore’s Money Laundering Scandal

In August 2023, Singapore police took 10 foreign nationals into custody, all falling in the age bracket of 31-44, followed by the forfeiture of assets valued at $2 billion approximately. Additionally, they executed raids on the suspect’s residences that led to confiscation of high end possessions including Patek Philippe watches, Hermes handbags, aged Macallan whisky, and Bentley and Rolls-Royce automobiles.

The individuals under suspicion were originally from Fujian, a province in eastern China, and hold passports from Turkey, Cyprus, Cambodia and Vanuatu.

According to the Singapore Police Force, the assets they have seized are suspected to be illicit gains acquired from organized criminal endeavors committed overseas such as fraudulent schemes and online gambling. These proceeds were then channeled to Singapore and subjected to money laundering through the country’s financial institutions.

Besides financial institutions in Singapore, real estate agencies, precious metal traders and golf clubs have also been embroiled in the scandal. This has made the government take action on strengthening AML measures in these sectors.

The Ministry of Law has urged precious metals and stones dealers to carefully scrutinize their business dealings and transactions to identify if there exists legitimate reasons for suspecting criminal behavior, particularly linked to ongoing police investigation.