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The rich turns to Singapore to evade China’s grip on Hong Kong’s financial centre

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Hong Kong’s financial sector is becoming more tangled with mainland China, prompting more and more of China’s rich to turn to Singapore, said Bloomberg.

China has been tightening its grip on Hong Kong.

As a result, Hong Kong is starting to be eclipsed by Singapore as the favorite destination for the wealth of China’s rich and at stake for banks in both cities is a$5.8 trillion bounty. This is what the high-net-worth individuals control in Hong Kong and almost half of it is already offshore, said consulting firm Capgemini SE to Bloomberg.

For some, Singapore is preferable because it’s at a safer distance from any potential scrutiny from authorities in Beijing, according to interviews with several wealth managers.

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Multiple private banking sources in Singapore, who would not comment on the record because of the sensitivity of the subject, report seeing increased flows at the expense of Hong Kong.

The rich may be feeling exposed to changing banking practices. Hong Kong has signed tax transparency agreements that required all banks to report their account holders’ information to Hong Kong tax officials.

At the same time, more Chinese banks in Hong Kong are “trying to synchronize their internal systems with those on the mainland meaning the clients’ information will become more transparent to mainland authorities

The number of Chinese high-net-worth individuals who view Hong Kong as their preferred overseas place of investment is down to 53 percent, from 71 percent two years ago, according to a survey in July by Bain & Co.

More than 20 percent favor Singapore, up from 15 percent two years ago. They see Singapore as the Zurich of the East.

Singapore has additional attractions for the wealthy of China. Mandarin is one of its four official languages, and it has world-class health facilities and international schools. Not far from the Shangri-La Hotel, Sentosa’s casinos are a popular draw for Chinese tourists.

 

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