Singapore Authorities Confiscate Over S$2.8 Billion in Money Laundering Probe
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Singapore’s largest-ever money laundering investigation reveals assets worth over S$2.8 billion ($2 billion) seized and a growing focus on cryptocurrency-related illicit activities.
The crackdown spotlights challenges in regulating Singapore’s $2 trillion financial sector while maintaining its reputation for clean governance and attracting foreign investors.
Singapore recently revealed its largest money laundering investigation to date, with authorities seizing or freezing assets worth more than S$2.8 billion ($2 billion). The Second Minister for Home Affairs, Josephine Teo, announced the numbers while hinting at potential immigration rule changes to combat illicit inflows.
Recent operations led to the seizure of bank accounts worth more than S$1.13 billion and cryptocurrencies exceeding S$38 million. In addition, orders have been issued to prevent the sale of more than 110 properties and 62 vehicles totaling over S$1.24 billion.
Amid these developments, banks in Singapore are intensifying scrutiny of clients with Chinese origins and other citizenships.
The sum surpasses the previously reported S$2.4 billion, and the investigation is ongoing, with interviews of both Singaporeans and foreigners continuing.
Last week, cryptocurrency valued at over $3.8 million was withdrawn from the Binance account of one of the individuals implicated in Singapore’s major money laundering scandal just two days after their arrest, even while they were in custody.
Singapore’s Financial Sector Under the Lens
Singapore’s reputation for clean governance and a zero-tolerance stance on crime has been called into question following the seizure of assets and the arrest of 10 foreigners, all originally from China, on charges related to forgery and laundering proceeds from scams and illegal online gambling.
The case, which emerged in mid-August, highlights the issue of fund in-flows from abroad and whether Singapore’s $2 trillion financial sector has been effective in blocking dubious transactions. The city-state’s attractiveness to affluent Asians, including those from China seeking safe investments amid mainland crackdowns and pandemic restrictions, has led to an influx of cross-border wealth in-flows, estimated at $1.5 trillion in 2022.
Singapore is working with global partners, and local regulators are ready to address compliance issues. Lawmakers are now questioning the necessity of stricter money-laundering rules, enhanced cross-border crime measures, and tougher immigration checks.
Authorities recognize the importance of balancing security without unfairly penalizing innocent applicants. In the past two years, over 240 individuals were convicted of money laundering, leading to the seizure of assets valued at over S$1.2 billion.
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