The Jakarta Post reported this week that representatives from Indonesia’s PPATK (Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre), one of the principal bodies tasked with combating money laundering in the country, is seeking support and cooperation from the equivalent body in Singapore in its efforts to combat money laundering in the region. 

PPATK Chairman Muhammad Yusuf has publicly spoken about the plans and has said that the response from his Singapore counterparts has been positive and that the intention is to finalise a memorandum of understanding setting out the basis for the joint approach. It is hoped that this step will make it easier for Indonesia to recover stolen assets squirreled away in Singapore’s financial systems.

The potential benefits of a unified approach for both sides are clear. Indonesian authorities will benefit from having systems and communication lines in place that make it easier to track and retrieve assets across the two jurisdictions. Singapore too has a point to prove. Cooperation will be another step towards Singapore dispelling the perception held by many that it is a haven for tax avoiders and a destination of choice for laundered assets flowing from Indonesia as well as other countries.

Whatever the motivations of the two governments, it is widely perceived that a significant proportion of assets stolen in Indonesia pass through or end up in Singapore. So, a cohesive, coordinated approach can only be a positive development for the region as a whole.