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Singapore Tightens The Net On Tax Evasion

Tara Loader Wilkinson, Editor, Asia, Hong Kong, 20 February 2012

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Singapore has declared its commitment to combating money laundering and tax evasion, in line with revamped global guidelines issued by the Financial Action Task Force.  

Last week Singapore said it would implement new laws recommended by Paris-based FATF designed to drive more effective international co-operation between countries.

Under existing rules, if a foreign individual evades tax in his home country and stashes the funds in a Singaporean bank, the bank is not obliged to report it. Under the new rules, Singapore’s lenders will be obliged to notify the authorities if they suspect tax evasion.

“As an international financial centre, Singapore is highly vigilant against illicit funds that could threaten its integrity. Singapore’s regime seeks to deter and prevent criminal abuse, and it is our policy to actively cooperate with foreign jurisdictions to combat money laundering and terrorist financing,” said Singapore’s Ministry of Finance in a statement.

Several of the FATF’s recommendations have already been implemented in Singapore, said the MOF. These include applying a risk-based approach, enhanced measures for politically exposed persons to deter and detect corruption proceeds, and measures to fight the financing of proliferation.

In October 2011, Singapore announced its intention to criminalise the laundering of proceeds from serious tax offences.

“We will review our international cooperation channels and other pertinent aspects of our regime to ensure compliance with the new FATF Recommendations,” said the MOF.

The MOF plans to conduct a consultation on the finance sector over coming months “to strengthen the overall resilience of (the) system against threats from cross-border crimes.”

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