Photo of Najib and Lee Hsien Loong from straitstimes

According to UK-based independent charity Oxfam, Singapore is ranked 5th worst in the world for corporate tax haven. Tax havens are countries which assist in tax evasion in an attempt to attract international business firms, and help them dodge taxes in their domestic countries.

You may view the tax haven ranking here.

The Singapore Ministry of Finance (MOF) has however rejected the ranking counter-claiming that the report bearing “inaccurate assertions”.

The spokesperson for the MOF said:

“This is inaccurate. Withholding tax (for example, interest, royalty, services and so forth) is applicable for payments made to non-resident persons. In terms of several other criteria that Oxfam has listed in order to qualify as a tax haven, Singapore is in a better position than many other jurisdictions. The perception of Singapore as a tax haven stands to be corrected.”

However Singapore’s defence is hardly convincing as fresh reports revealed its major role in Malaysia’s 1MDB money-laundering scandal. Just two days ago, a former Swiss banker based in Singapore was sentenced to 28 weeks’ jail and fined S$128,000 for his role in the 1MDB case. In December 2016, a total of 6 Singapore banks – including Standard Chartered and DBS – were revealed to be involved with the money laundering of 1MDB.

A total of 5 individuals were singled out as key perpetrators – publicly known as scapegoats – for the Malaysian state fund money laundering case in Singapore, while none of the government officials nor ministries were liable for investigation.