Singapore Banks

SINGAPORE: Local banks are stepping up scrutiny of overseas customers after authorities uncovered one of Singapore’s largest-ever money laundering cases, according to a report by American publication Bloomberg.

Earlier this month, 10 foreigners faced charges in court after authorities seized and froze approximately S$1 billion in assets. These assets included properties, vehicles, luxury goods, and gold bars.

The police updated on Wednesday (Sept 20) that the value of assets seized in the case has climbed to more than S$2.4 billion after further actions. This includes bank accounts with a value of more than S$1.13 billion.

Quoting individuals familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reported that some local banks are reviewing new accounts and transactions by customers who hold investment passports and are originally from China. At least one international bank has also closed the accounts of customers holding citizenship in countries including Cambodia, Cyprus, Turkey and Vanuatu.

Banks are reportedly now re-evaluating their stance on accepting new funds from customers sharing similar backgrounds on a case-by-case basis. As a result, the registration process for such customers has become more stringent, requiring them to answer additional questions and provide more detailed information.

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Bloomberg added that Citigroup, OCBC Bank and United Overseas Bank are cooperating with the authorities to combat money laundering activities. It has come to light that some of the individuals involved in the money laundering case had either opened accounts in these three banks or secured loans from them through companies established under their names.