Updated: 01/11/2014 02:23

New rules to combat money laundering in some sectors to be introduced

New rules to combat money laundering in some sectors to be introduced

Singapore's first National Risk Assessment report says many sectors, such as banks and casinos, already have tough regimes in place to combat money laundering and terrorist funding. 

But controls in sectors like the pawnbroking and corporate services industries can be strengthened. 

Other sectors where measures can be boosted include remittance agents, money-changers and online stored-value facility holders, such as PayPal. 

The National Risk Assessment, or NRA report released today is the culmination of a government-wide exercise conducted over the past two years. 

It assessed 14 financial and 8 non-financial sectors. 

The pawnbroking industry has been booming in Singapore, with the number of pawnshops increasing to nearly 200 in 2012, from just over 100 in 2008. 

As transactions in the industry are mainly cash-based, the NRA Report says pawnshops are exposed to inherent risks of money-laundering activities. 

Customers may, for example, repay debts using illicit money. 

They may also pawn stolen goods and leave them unredeemed. 

As there are currently no specific obligations for pawnbrokers to counter money laundering, 

the government is mulling over the introduction of new rules to the Pawnbrokers Act. 

These could include comprehensive customer due diligence measures to complement existing record-keeping duties that pawnbrokers already have. 

Corporate service providers, or CSPs, is another sector that's exposed to money-laundering or terrorist-funding risks, especially those from overseas. 

That's because foreigners cannot register businesses in Singapore without the help of a corporate service provider. 

CSPs help individuals and businesses with the statutory filing of documents with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority, or ACRA. 

The ACRA Act is being amended to require them to have control measures to mitigate money laundering and terrorist funding risks. 

The amendments will also give ACRA the power to inspect CSPs and take enforcement action against errant service providers. 

Overall, the NRA report found that controls in many sectors, like banks and casinos, are already very tough. 

But given Singapore's openness as an international transport hub and financial centre, the government hopes to raise public awareness of money laundering and terrorist funding activities.

-By John Yip

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