In a media briefing during the release of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)’s annual report on yesterday (July 25), MAS’s managing director Ravi Menon admitted that Singapore is guilty of money laundering funds from Malaysia’s 1MDB. Singapore banks like DBS, Standard Chartered and UBS – all three are owned by the Singapore government through GIC or Temasek Holdings – were found to have money laundered part of the US$1 billion fund from Malaysian’s taxpayers.
MAS however refuse to admit it did not do its own due diligence checking the banks, and MAS director Ravi Menon pushed all the blame to the financial institutions:
“There is no doubt that the recent findings have made a dent in our reputation as a clean and trusted financial centre. MAS is disappointed with the lapses in AML/CFT (anti-money laundering/countering financing of terrorism) controls and breaches of AML/CFT regulations that we have picked up in our FIs (financial institutions). What happened is simply unacceptable. We may not be any worse off than other jurisdictions but that is no consolation. We have not met the high standards we have set for ourselves.”
The discovery of multiple money laundering activities in Singapore were started only after Wall Street Journal found evidence of money laundering in Malaysia’s 1MDB fund. The Singapore government, MAS and the banks either feigned ignorance of the matter or did not enforce checks of their own.
Also mentioned at the briefing is the recent Indonesia’s tax amnesty programme, MAS director Ravi Menon took a potshot at Indonesia saying that the programme is unlikely to lead to a large outflow of funds for Singapore.
Singapore is an infamous worldwide as a tax haven like Cayman Islands, where rich foreigners would park their wealth in Singapore to avoid paying taxes. Australia’s coal giant BHP Billiton is one such multi-national company guilty of tax evasion in Australia by setting up satellite companies in Singapore.