Recent legislative amendments have given greater strength to regulators for controlling money laundering and recovering the benefits of crimes. These amendments also allow for greater co-operation and assistance between Singapore and the rest of the world to combat money laundering.

In 1999 the Drug Trafficking (Confiscation of Benefits) Act was completely overhauled. It was originally passed in 1993 to curb the money laundering of benefits arising from drug trafficking. However, with a view to making the act more relevant to other serious crimes, the original act has been revamped to include corruption and other serious offences. Accordingly, it has been renamed the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious offences (Confiscation of Benefits) Act (Cap 8A) (the amended act).

'Serious crimes' includes crimes which are serious in nature and which can be linked to money laundering. They also include the conspiracy, incitement, attempt and abetment of these offences. Schedule 2 to the amended act sets out these offences. There is a long list of offences from the Penal Code (Cap 224) and the list covers property offences (eg, fraud and forgery), false evidence, offences against public justice (eg, perjury) and offences affecting the human body (eg, murder and kidnapping). The list also includes offences under other legislation relating to:

  • bribery;

  • cruelty to children and young persons;

  • hijacking;

  • termination of pregnancy by coercion or intimidation;

  • vandalism; and

  • prostitution and trafficking in women and girls.

The amended act attempts to curb money laundering in three ways:

  • Following the conviction of one or more drug trafficking or serious offences, the court may, on the application of the public prosecutor, make a confiscation order against the defendant in respect of the benefits derived from the criminal conduct.

  • For the purpose of investigation, and as part of the information gathering powers, an authorized officer may apply to the court for production orders for a particular material. These orders can be made against financial institutions. 'Material' includes any book, document or other records in any form, and any container or article relating to the material.

  • It imposes a duty on every person to disclose to an authorized person his or her knowledge or suspicion that any property represents the proceeds of drug trafficking or 'criminal conduct' or, was used in connection with, or intended to be used in connection with, drug trafficking and criminal conduct. He or she is required to disclose "as soon as is reasonably practicable after it comes to his or her attention". If the person does not, he or she has committed an offence and may also be deemed to have committed the separate offences of "assisting another to retain benefits from criminal conduct" and "concealing or transferring benefits of criminal conduct". The duty to disclose does not extend to items that are subject to legal privilege.

The above extends to the commission of serious offences outside Singapore. With some qualifications, production orders may be obtained to assist a foreign authority in its investigation of drug trafficking or criminal conduct. As 'criminal conduct' is defined in the amended act to include a foreign serious offence, a confiscation order may be made with respect to the benefits derived from a foreign serious offence. A person is also obliged to disclose his or her knowledge or suspicion in relation to a serious offence committed outside Singapore.

For further information on this topic contact Rosalind Lazar at Drew & Napier by telephone (+65 531 2412) or fax (+65 533 0693) or by e-mail ([email protected]). The Drew & Napier web site can be accessed at .

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