6. Other relevant matters

a. Anti-money laundering rules

Singapore benchmarks itself against international best practices including, in particular, the recommendations set by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Singapore is also one of the founding members of the Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering, one of FATF’s regional groups.

The main legal sources of Singapore’s regime to prevent money laundering and the financing of terrorism are contained in: (a) the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and other Serious Crime (Confiscation of Benefits) Act 1993, as amended (b) the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act 2002; (c) the Monetary Authority of Singapore Act, and various Freezing of Assets Regulations made thereunder (d) the Monetary Authority of Singapore (Anti-Terrorism Measures) Regulations 2002; (e) the United Nations Act 2001 and the United Nations (Anti-Terrorism Measures) Regulations 2001. These are provisions of general application that apply to all persons in Singapore.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has, in addition, pursuant to the Monetary Authority of Singapore Act issued sector-specific notices and guidelines to banks, merchant banks, money changers, finance companies, life insurers, financial advisors, capital markets services licensees, approved trustees and trust companies. These prescribe their obligations with respect to customer due diligence, disclosure of suspicious transaction reports and internal control policies and procedures. Trust companies are subject to Notice TCA-N03 and to guidelines. These may be accessed at the MAS website.The Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act criminalises money laundering of benefits derived from 360 listed predicate offences, and provides for the confiscation of these benefits.

b. Regulation of trust companies

The Trust Companies Act, which came into force on 1 February 2006, regulates trust service providers in Singapore. No person may carry on any trust business or hold themselves out as carrying on any trust business in or from Singapore unless that person is a trust company licensed by the MAS. Requirements and qualifications for holding a licence are set out in the Act and in regulations, guidelines and directions made under it. Certain persons, including bankers, lawyers and accountants, are exempt in relation to certain matters. Licensed trust companies must have at least two resident managers who have various statutory responsibilities. They must ensure compliance with written policies, which must be drawn up on all operational areas of the company. A trust company outside Singapore engaging in trust business in Singapore is also subject to the new regime, apart from a narrowly defined set of circumstances. Trust companies are regulated by the MAS over a wide range of issues under the Trust Companies Act and are subject to specific rules in respect of the prevention of money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism under the Monetary Authority of Singapore Act and notices and guidelines issued thereunder.

c. Exchange of information

On 6 March 2009, the Ministry of Finance issued a press statement to the effect that Singapore has decided to endorse the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Standard for the effective exchange of information through avoidance of double taxation agreements (DTAs). ‘To implement the Standard, Singapore will introduce draft legislative amendments in the middle of 2009, before tabling the amendments in Parliament for approval.’ Following the amendments, Singapore will, according to the Ministry of Finance statement, be able to extend further cooperation on information exchange through its DTAs, and hopes to negotiate and conclude further DTAs. Singapore will implement the Standard, the statement indicates, ‘through our DTAs to assist on bona-fide requests for information rather than information fishing’.

© 2012 Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners