MAS sets up dedicated departments to combat money laundering, strengthen enforcement
Monday, 13 June 2016

"MAS is resolved to ensure that Singapore remains a clean and trusted financial centre,” says Ravi Menon, the managing director of the central bank.

SINGAPORE: Starting Aug 1, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will have dedicated departments to combat money laundering and strengthen enforcement respectively. 

In a press release on Monday (Jun 13), MAS said it will form a dedicated Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Department that will streamline the existing responsibilities for regulatory policies relating to money laundering and other illicit financing risks. In addition, a dedicated supervisory team will be set up to monitor these risks and carry out onsite supervision of how financial institutions manage these risks.

These functions used to be carried out by different departments in MAS, but the central bank expects the new structure to enhance supervisory focus, it said.

"Like all major international financial and business centres, Singapore’s financial sector faces the risk of being used as a conduit for money laundering and terrorist financing activities," MAS said in its press release.

"While MAS has in place a robust regime to protect the integrity of Singapore’s financial system, the increasing complexities of transnational flows necessitates heightened supervisory focus on combatting money laundering and other illicit financing activities."

A separate department will also be set up to centralise and strengthen the central bank's enforcement functions. The Enforcement Department will continue to jointly investigate capital markets misconduct offences with the Commercial Affairs Department.

"With a financial sector that comprises more than 1,500 financial institutions of varying sizes and systemic importance, it is not possible to prevent regulatory breaches and misconduct even with intrusive supervision," MAS said.

In addition, the new department will be responsible for enforcement actions arising from regulatory breaches of MAS’ banking, insurance and capital markets regulations, MAS said.

"A strong enforcement capability is necessary to conduct rigorous investigations of suspected violations and misdemeanours and to take swift actions to establish culpability and punish as appropriate the institutions or individuals who have breached MAS’ regulations," the central bank added in its news release. 

Managing director of MAS Ravi Menon said the central bank is resolved to ensure that Singapore remains a clean and trusted financial centre.

"As our financial centre grows in scale, sophistication, and connectivity, so does the risk of criminal elements abusing our financial system, he said.

"We will strengthen our supervision of financial institutions’ controls to combat money laundering and illicit financing, and we will enhance our enforcement capability to deter poor controls or criminal behaviour in the industry," he added.  

Last month, the central bank ordered the closure of the Singapore subsidiary of Switzerland’s BSI Bank over “serious breaches of anti-money laundering requirements, poor management oversight of the bank’s operations, and gross misconduct by some of the bank’s staff”. At the same time, MAS also said it was conducting supervisory reviews of several other financial institutions and bank accounts through which suspicious and unusual transactions had taken place.

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