SINGAPORE: The director-general of the UAE’s Executive Office of Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing, Mr Hamid Al Zaabi, has praised Singapore for its handling of the biggest money-laundering case in its history, The Straits Times reported. The case has made the headlines across the globe, in large part due to its size, as S$2.8 billion in funds and assets are involved. In August, police rounded up 10 Chinese-born nationals holding various foreign passports, nine men and one woman, connected to the case.

“Singapore’s money laundering case is globally significant and is worthy of applause. I know some commentators have said that the size of the bust suggests weaknesses in the national anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing system, but this is completely wrong,” ST quotes Mr Hamid. “Instead, it demonstrates two things: one, that money laundering operates on a massive scale globally; and two, Singapore will go after the bad guys, no matter how big or powerful they are.”

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The case has also caused the country’s financial institutions to tighten policies. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said in an emailed statement in September that it looked into whether banks took every reasonable step to diminish the risks.

In late August, it was reported that DBS Group Holdings and Bank of Singapore, the private banking arm of OCBC Bank, had been creditors to the investment companies linked to accused persons who had been arrested in the round-up by police. Citigroup, OCBC Bank, and United Overseas Bank were cooperating with the authorities in the fight against money laundering activities, reported Bloomberg.

ST added that the UAE’s top Anti-Money Laundering official is currently in Singapore, at the helm of a team from his country whose purpose is to solidify ties between the two countries in the fight against financial crime. The piece also pointed out that a number of those arrested in the money laundering case are connected to the UAE via personal relations, business investments, and properties.

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Wang Dehai, one of the arrested individuals, purchased a condominium worth $23 million at The Marq on Paterson Hill using proceeds from investments in real estate in Dubai. Su Jianfeng, another accused, said he worked as a property agent in Dubai and has several luxury properties there. Two other arrested persons have close personal ties and property in Dubai.

Mr Al Zaabi said, “the Emirati authorities have a close cooperation with their Singaporean partners and will do their utmost to bring criminals to justice.” 

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