Singapore will start automatically sharing information with foreign tax authorities from 2018 to comply with a 51-country agreement to fight tax evasion.
“Clients are worried and asking about this, (while) accounting and legal firms are pitching to help clients structure their transactions,” a Singapore banker told Reuters.
Up to half of the $470 billion of private-client assets in Singapore belong to Indonesians.
Indonesia is now mulling a tax amnesty to individuals who repatriate funds from abroad.
Another Singapore banker said a client was thinking of “passing his wealth directly to one of his children, who is in the process of taking Singapore nationality.”
The Monetary Authority of Singapore has already taken a tough stance against money laundering. New know-your-client rules are causing long delays for foreign individuals and companies trying to open Singapore bank accounts.
“Everybody’s in limbo right now,” a senior banker in Singapore told Reuters. “Clients are scared about opening new accounts and asking whether certain structures work.”
“The days of undisclosed assets being held offshore will, in time, become a thing of the past,” Mark Wightman, an EY Advisory partner, told Reuters.
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.