Singapore’s Enhanced Measures Against Weapons Financing in New Anti-Money Laundering Bill

The Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Other Matters Bill has introduced a pivotal amendment to the existing Casino Control Act, compelling casino operators to conduct enhanced customer due diligence (CDD) checks. These stringent measures are strategically designed to detect and thwart money laundering (ML) activities that may fuel terrorism financing (TF) and proliferation financing (PF). The latter pertains particularly to the illegal creation and distribution of weapons of mass destruction.

In this context, under the new regulatory framework, CDD checks are mandated for any cash transactions or deposits amounting to S$4,000 or more, carried out by casino operators across Singapore. Previously, these due diligence checks were only necessitated when a casino operator engaged in a single transaction of S$10,000 (£5,800/€6,850/$7,398) or more, or when they received S$5,000 or more in a single deposit transaction into a deposit account.

The Ministry of Home Affairs of Singapore issued a statement dated July 2, emphasizing the alignment of these procedures with the standards set by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global watchdog for money laundering and terrorist financing activities. The ministry stated: “To align our processes with the FATF standards, the changes will require casino operators to also consider PF risks when conducting CDD checks. The Gambling Regulatory Authority (GRA) of Singapore will be empowered to issue regulations requiring casino operators to detect or prevent PF.”

The FATF plays a critical role as the global watchdog overseeing efforts to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. The latest legislative measures signify Singapore’s commitment to bolstering its regulatory framework to stay ahead of an evolving crime landscape. This endeavor includes granting law enforcement agencies (LEAs) enhanced powers and refining processes associated with Anti-Money Laundering (AML).

In addition to global FATF standards, the bill is a result of comprehensive discussions carried out over three days in Singapore. Notably, Singapore is not listed on the FATF’s black or grey lists: directories that would indicate a need for immediate action or elevated monitoring.

The AML and Other Matters Bill was officially tabled for its first reading in Singapore’s parliament on July 2.

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. This progression underscores the country’s proactive stance in solidifying its legal framework and operational mechanisms to combat sophisticated financial crimes.

The urgency and critical nature of these amendments have been further highlighted by recent enforcement actions. For instance, in December last year, Resorts World Sentosa faced repercussions after it was fined S$2.3 million for failing to conduct the necessary CDD checks. This breach marked a serious violation of Singapore’s AML regulatory framework.

The Gambling Regulatory Authority (GRA) underscored that Resorts World Sentosa had breached several significant Singaporean laws, notably including provisions of the Casino Control Act of 2006 and the Casino Control (Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing) Regulations of 2009. These breaches emphasized the critical need for the enhanced CDD measures stipulated in the newly introduced bill.

In light of these developments, casino operators across Singapore will be required to elevate their vigilance and procedural rigor substantially. The implementation of these heightened CDD checks at lower transaction thresholds aims to create a robust barrier against illicit financial activities that could have far-reaching and severe consequences.

As this bill moves forward through Singapore’s legislative process, it is expected to bring about a significant shift in how casinos operate, ensuring stricter compliance and better alignment with international standards. This will undoubtedly support Singapore’s ongoing efforts to be at the forefront of global initiatives against financial crimes, particularly in curbing the financial pathways that enable the proliferation and potentially disastrous impact of weapons of mass destruction.

With these enhanced measures, Singapore continues to strengthen its legal framework, paving the way for more effective deterrence and detection of money laundering activities, all while maintaining a resilient stance against the rapidly evolving landscape of financial crime. These legislative advancements represent a crucial step towards safeguarding national security and global stability.