On 30 November 2015, the Monetary Authority of Singapore ("MAS") issued a series of amendments to various MAS Notices on Prevention of Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (the "Notices") and the corresponding Guidelines for each Notice.
The key amendments to the Notices are:
- Identification of beneficiary of life policies: where a financial institution (which could be a bank, merchant bank, finance company or capital market intermediary) distributes life policies on behalf of a direct life insurer, the financial institution must:
- as soon as a beneficiary of a life policy is identified to the financial institution as a specifically named natural person, legal person or arrangement, obtain the full name, including any aliases, of such beneficiary;
- as soon as a beneficiary of a life policy is designated by characteristics, class or other means and is known to the financial institution, obtain sufficient information concerning the beneficiary to satisfy the direct life insurer that such direct life insurer will be able to establish the identity of the beneficiary at the time of payout;
- Identification of beneficial owner in relation to a customer that is a Singapore Government or foreign government entity: financial institutions (i.e. banks, merchant banks, finance companies, credit card or charge card licensees, holders of money-changer's or remittance licence, direct life insurers, financial advisers, capital market intermediaries, approved trustees, trust companies, and holders of stored value facilities) are no longer exempt from inquiring if there exists any beneficial owner in relation to a customer that is a Singapore Government or foreign government entity; and
- arious clarifications made to individual Notices: it is specifically clarified that:
- a credit card or charge card licensee must not undertake any transaction for any person without establishing business relations with that person;
- in determining whether business relations with or transactions undertaken for any customer present a higher risk of money laundering or terrorism financing, a direct life insurer must include each beneficiary as a relevant risk factor; and
- a direct life insurer must consider filing a suspicious transaction report where any beneficiary, or beneficial owner of a beneficiary is a politically exposed person ("PEP"), or a family member or close associate of a PEP, and higher risks are identified.
The amendments to the Notices and the Guidelines are effective from 30 November 2015.