S'pore cooperates readily with other countries to fight financial crime: Tharman

Source: Channel NewsAsia

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam said Singapore cooperates readily with foreign jurisdictions to fight financial crime.

SINGAPORE: Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam said Singapore cooperates readily with foreign jurisdictions to fight financial crime. He added that Singapore's cooperation is guided by international standards and norms.

This was the written response by Mr Tharman to the parliamentary question raised by Mr Png Eng Huat, MP for Hougang SMC.

Mr Png had asked how many times have Malaysia and Indonesia approached Singapore to provide information on their citizens who operate bank accounts out of Singapore, for tax or investigation purposes in the past 10 years.

The Finance Minister said that under Singapore's anti-money laundering regime, financial institutions are required to be vigilant against suspected illicit monies. They have to know their customers, and to report any suspicious transactions in customers' accounts.

Singapore also stands ready to assist foreign authorities investigate possible criminal activity, including the exchange of bank account information.

Mr Tharman said this is provided under the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act.

"Through our bilateral tax agreements, we also exchange information actively with Malaysia and Indonesia for tax investigations," said Mr Tharman.

However, Mr Tharman said that "it is generally not the international practice among authorities to reveal the number of legal assistance and information requests from specific countries."

He added that Singapore has "helped fully on all requests from Malaysia and Indonesia in accordance with our current tax agreements. This includes information on details of transactions and companies."

Mr Tharman said that Singapore has offered Malaysia and Indonesia the opportunity to update their tax agreements with the internationally-agreed standard for exchange of information for tax purposes. The standard provides for the exchange of bank information.

"Once our tax agreements with Malaysia and Indonesia are updated with the standard, just as for our tax agreements with other countries, we can build further on our good working relations with Malaysia and Indonesia and enhance tax cooperation further," added Mr Tharman.