Six Singapore-Based SFO Funds Linked To Major Money Laundering Case

Tom Burroughes Group Editor 8 July 2024

Six Singapore-Based SFO Funds Linked To Major Money Laundering Case

The single-family offices connected to Singapore's S$3 billion money laundering saga were not identified by name.

Six Singapore-based single-family offices’ funds are linked to people convicted in relation to the city-state’s largest ever money laundering case, or linked to their spouses.

The jurisdiction is seeking to learn from the case, which has generated a number of damaging headlines. For example, a group of criminals from China laundered more than S$3 billion ($2.23 billion).

They laundered proceeds from online gambling passed through at least 16 financial institutions in Singapore.

Responding to a question in parliament, Gan Kim Yong, deputy prime minister and minister for trade and industry, and chairman of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, said: “A total of six single family office (SFO) funds which were awarded SFO [single-family office] tax incentives have been identified to be linked to individuals who have been convicted in relation to the money laundering case or their spouses.”

The SFOs were not identified by name in the statement, which was issued last week.

“Tax benefits were withdrawn starting from the financial year the owners of these SFO funds or their spouses were charged or convicted. Tax benefits accorded prior to that will not be clawed back, unless there were breaches of the conditions of the tax incentive awards then,” the statement continued.

The minister said that as part of enforcement actions in the case, assets have been forfeited from the convicted individuals. The total value of assets forfeited from convicted individuals with links to SFO funds that were awarded tax incentives far exceeds any tax benefits accorded to the SFO funds, the minister added. 

In a report on 11 June, Citigroup, DBS and other banks caught up in a major money laundering case in Singapore are tightening scrutiny of their wealthy customers and potential clients. Private bankers at several institutions are also receiving additional training to help them spot tricks used by criminals to mask their backgrounds and sources of funds.

This isn’t the first time Singapore – along with other hubs such as Switzerland and the US – have been hit by money laundering scandals. Just under a decade ago, the wealth sector witnessed the multi-billion saga of funds that were siphoned off from the 1MDB fund created by the Malaysian government. Banks in Singapore were among those affected.

MAS recently unveiled a report examining the main sources of vulnerability in the jurisdiction's financial system.

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