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More overseas crooks want Singapore bank accounts

Singapore has tripled the size of its white-collar crime police unit to deal with more suspicious transaction reports and aid requests from overseas enforcement agencies, the city-state’s Commercial Affairs Department said in its annual report last week.

According to Bloomberg’s Andrea Tan, organized crime groups are growing more sophisticated and taking advantage of opportunities as Singapore’s financial industry expands.

The tiny Southeast Asia nation “prosecuted a record number of money laundering cases and seized more than S$115 million ($92 million) of suspected criminal proceeds in 2013 as more overseas offenders seek out bank accounts in the city,” Tan said.

“Singapore’s openness as an international transport hub and financial center exposes it to cross-border money-laundering and terrorist financing risks,” Tan Boon Gin, director of the Commercial Affairs Department, said in the agency’s annual report posted on its website.

“We are seeing a trend of overseas criminals seeking to launder money through Singapore bank accounts,” he said.

The Commercial Affairs Department received 22,417 suspicious transactions reports in 2013, a 25 percent increase from a year earlier.

It provided financial intelligence to foreign agencies in 341 instances, up from 160 in 2012.

“Singapore is boosting its anti-money laundering rules in line with global regulations following U.S. authorities’ probe of several Swiss banks for their dealings on behalf of American clients,” Bloomberg’s Tan said.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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