Singapore’s Coveted Safe Haven Status at Risk as AML Probe Deepens
(14 September 2023 – Singapore) Singapore has successfully leveraged its status as a global financial hub for decades however a wide reaching anti-money laundering (AML) probe has experts questioning whether the model is still suitable.
Singapore has vowed to remain vigilant to keep illicit financial activities in check amid an intensive AML investigation involving 10 foreign nationals arrested in August on charges of illegally amassing assets worth more than US$1.3 billion including gold bars, designer handbags, luxury cars property and cryptocurrency.
Ten financial institutions have been drawn into the scandal including DBS, Citi and Credit Suisse along with precious metal dealers, property agents and one of the country’s most famous golf clubs as the investigation continues. While the city state’s open, trade reliant economy has weathered major macro shocks such as rising global protectionism and supply chain disruptions, the raid occurs at a sensitive and destabilising instance.
“The investigation has captured global attention not just due to its size and links to Chinese money but also because it underscores the risks as Singapore tries to reshape itself in a more competitive and fragmented world” commented National University of Singapore Associate Professor of Political Science, Chong Ja Ian.
“Singapore wants to be a premium place for premium business, not just a Cayman Islands or a Mauritius, a place where global capital can come in and be reinvested elsewhere. But a raid of this scale shows the model has serious drawbacks” he added.
“We have been diligent from very early on. We want Singapore to be a financial centre that people can trust. It is important for us to keep integrity in finance and keep its ability to function effectively” stated Singapore Deputy PM and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies, Heng Swee Kiat.