On 28 May 2014, the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) (Amendment) Bill (the "Bill") was introduced in Parliament. The Bill seeks to amend the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act (the "CDSA") which sets out the money laundering offences in Singapore. The CDSA criminalises the laundering of benefits of "criminal conduct" and "drug trafficking" committed in or outside of Singapore.

The Bill will amend the CDSA to introduce changes to various aspects of the Act including:

  • Replacing the existing definition of "drug trafficking" with a new definition of "drug dealing" to avoid confusion with the term "trafficking" as defined in section 2 of the Misuse of Drugs Act. The terms "drug trafficking" and "drug dealing" have different ambits. The existing definition of "drug trafficking" excludes from its ambit any act constituting a money laundering offence under the CDSA, and instead enumerates the types of money laundering that would constitute "drug trafficking". The new definition of "drug dealing" extends its ambit to every act constituting a drug dealing offence, which includes every type of money laundering offence under the CDSA. For the same purpose, the definition of "criminal conduct" will be revised to cover every act constituting a "serious offence" prescribed under the CDSA (namely, bribery, corruption, wilful or fraudulent tax evasion offences, etc.) which will also expressly include the money laundering offences under the CDSA.
  • Enabling certain types of foreign tax offences to be treated as foreign "serious offences", whether or not the foreign tax concerned is of a type that is imposed in Singapore.
  • Extending legal professional privilege under the CDSA to legal counsel. Certain communications and items made, and certain documents prepared, in connection with a legal counsel giving advice to his employer or relating to any legal proceedings in which the employer is or may be a party will be subject to legal privilege.
  • Establishing a Suspicious Transaction Reporting Office, and conferring certain additional powers on Suspicious Transaction Reporting Officers attached to that Office.
  • Refining the list of persons currently exempted from the suspicious transaction reporting requirements in section 39 of the CDSA. Persons who are exempted from section 39 will also include:
    • an arbitrator in respect of information which came to his attention in the course of any arbitral proceedings in which he acted as an arbitrator; and
    • a legal counsel acting as such for his employer, or an interpreter or other person who works under the supervision of the legal counsel, in respect of information concerning the employer which is subject to legal privilege.
  • Increasing the maximum term of imprisonment for the money laundering offences from seven years to 10 years.

Reference material

The Bill is available from the Singapore Parliament website www.parliament.gov.sg by clicking here.