Several Banks Named in Singapore Regulator's 1MDB Update

Singaporean Regulator Still Probing

Singaporean Regulator Still Probing

Following the recent action by the U.S. Attorney General, Singaporean authorities have issued an update on their ongoing investigations into 1MDB-Related Fund Flows through Singapore.

Authorities in Singapore said on Thursday that they have been investigating various funds linked to 1MDB which flowed through the city-state for possible money laundering, securities fraud, cheating, and other offences, as finews.ch reported exclusively last week.

In a joint statement by the Attorney-General’s Chambers Singapore, (AGC) the Commercial Affairs Department, (CAD) the Singapore Police Force and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced on Thursday that the Singapore authorities have been investigating various 1MDB-related fund flows through Singapore, for possible money laundering, securities fraud, cheating, and other offences committed in Singapore.

Investigations Ongoing

The statement said that Singapore’s investigations began in March 2015 and are still in progress. The fund flows being investigated include those connected with Good Star Limited (Seychelles), Aabar Investments PJS Limited (BVI), Aabar Investments PJS Limited (Seychelles), and Tanore Finance Corp. (BVI).

The criminal investigations by CAD are targeted at individuals suspected of committing offences in Singapore related to these flows, while MAS has been examining the financial institutions through which the funds flowed for possible regulatory breaches and control lapses.

$S240 Milllion Seized

In the course of the investigations, bank accounts belonging to various individuals have been seized and dealings in properties belonging to some of these individuals have been curtailed. The assets amount in total to S$240 million. Of these bank accounts and properties, about S$120 million belong to Low Taek Jho and his immediate family.

Singapore has made a number of requests for information to countries where these funds originated from or were subsequently sent to. Some of these requests are still being processed. Several countries have likewise requested Singapore’s assistance in relation to questionable fund flows pertaining to monies suspected to have originated from 1MDB. Singapore has promptly acceded to all such requests, in compliance with international obligations.

Appropriate actions will be brought against those who have broken Singapore’s laws. To-date, two individuals – Yeo Jiawei and Kelvin Ang – have been charged for various offences. Several other individuals are still being questioned or investigated.

Actions Against Financial Institutions

The MAS also announced that its supervisory examinations of financial institutions (FIs) with 1MDB-related fund flows have revealed a complex international web of transactions involving multiple entities and individuals operating in several jurisdictions.

Certain FIs in Singapore were among those used as conduits for these transactions. MAS’ supervisory examinations, which began in March 2015, found lapses and weaknesses in anti-money laundering (AML) controls in these Singapore-based FIs. MAS will be taking actions against these FIs.

MAS’ supervisory examinations included detailed onsite inspections, and analysis of information obtained from regulators abroad. They revealed extensive layering of transactions and subterfuge aimed at disguising the nature of certain activities and fund flows. In some instances, shell or unauthorised companies domiciled in various jurisdictions were used to conceal the true beneficiaries of the funds.

MAS’ findings to-date on the lapses and weaknesses in Singapore-based FIs in managing 1MDB-related flows are summarised below. The FIs include banks, capital market intermediaries, and a remittance agent.

BSI Bank Limited Singapore (BSI Bank)

MAS completed its examination of BSI Bank in May 2016. MAS decided to withdraw its status as a merchant bank in view of its serious breaches of AML requirements and poor management oversight, and gross misconduct by some of the bank’s staff.

DBS Bank Ltd (DBS), Standard Chartered Bank, Singapore Branch (SCB), and UBS AG, Singapore Branch (UBS)

The preliminary findings are that there were instances of control failings in all three banks and, in some cases, weaknesses in the processes for accepting clients and monitoring transactions. There was also undue delay in detecting and reporting suspicious transactions.

The deficiencies observed in DBS, SCB and UBS related to lapses in specific processes and by individual officers. The lapses were serious in their own right, and will be met by firm regulatory actions against the banks. However, the MAS’ inspections did not reveal pervasive control weaknesses or staff misconduct within these banks, unlike in the case of BSI Bank.

Falcon Private Bank Limited, Singapore Branch (Falcon PBS)

MAS completed its onsite inspection of Falcon PBS in April 2016, and found substantial breaches of AML regulations, including failure to adequately assess irregularities in activities pertaining to customers’ accounts and to file suspicious transaction reports.

However, the supervisory examination of Falcon PBS is still ongoing as the oversight and management of certain key client relationships were done out of the bank’s head office in Switzerland. MAS is examining information obtained from Falcon PBS’ head office and has asked for further details.

Raffles Money Change (RMC)

MAS has completed its examination of RMC, a licensed money changer and remittance agent. The examination revealed weak management oversight, inadequate risk management practices and internal controls. Specific findings include failure to identify beneficial owners, verify authenticity of remittance instructions, and assess if a customer’s remittance activities are consistent with the profile of the customer. MAS is finalising regulatory actions against RMC.

Winding up the MAS’ statement said that examination of certain other FIs are ongoing. More details will be provided when these examinations are completed. MAS will take decisive regulatory actions against any FI that has breached regulations or failed to meet the expected AML standards.

Compare my salary

Compare my salary

Feeling Underpaid? Benchmark your salary by job title, company and location. Find out where you stand in minutes.

compare my salary

Newsletter

Newsletter-SymbolFree Subscription

Subscribe to our free newsletter and receive daily email alerts from the finews editorial team with a list of the top featured articles.

Share with us

Do you have any market intelligence to share with finews.asia – email us on info@finews.asia – All communication is completely confidential and strictly anonymous.