SINGAPORE – Harsher penalties and increased enforcement powers are in place under legislation passed on Monday (Nov 19) to tackle terrorism financing and money laundering.
Individuals who have a high level of culpability in not reporting terrorism financing offences could face a maximum fine of $250,000, up from the current $50,000, while the maximum jail term remains at five years.
Corporations who also have a high level of culpability due to their professional obligations will face a maximum fine of $1 million or twice the value of the property involved in or services rendered for terrorism financing, whichever is higher. The fine is up from the current ceiling of $250,000.
Similarly, penalties for individuals who fail to report suspicious transactions potentially related to criminal conduct or drug dealing will rise from the current $20,000 to a maximum fine of $250,000 with up to three years’ jail.
The fine for corporations found guilty of the same offence will also be increased to $500,000, from $20,000.
These are among the changes passed in Parliament yesterday for the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act (TSOFA) and the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act (CDSA).
These harsher penalties and increased enforcement efforts come against the backdrop of the growing volume and complexity of financial transactions, which make such crimes harder to tackle due to ease of money transfers between persons and across borders, said Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo during Parliament.
In the last five years, Singapore has seen around 70 convictions annually for money laundering. In 2016, Singapore convicted six foreign nationals for terrorism financing.
“However, we will need to strengthen our defences,” said Mrs Teo, adding that harsher punishments would strengthen deterrence for some of these offences.
In her speech during the second reading of the Serious Crimes and Counter Terrorism (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill that updated the TSOFA and CDSA, Mrs Teo said reporting suspected criminal activities through Suspicious Transaction Reports was critical for authorities to tackle these offences.
Author: Tan Tam Mei
Source: The Straits Times