Singapore to clamp down on corporate-service providers after money laundering scandal

Singapore is planning to tighten its rules governing corporate-service providers, following a spate of money-laundering cases involving foreign nationals in the city state, Bloomberg reports. 

All entities providing corporate services such as business formation and regulatory filings in and from Singapore will need to be registered with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority, according to a proposal that was published on Tuesday. 

The government is also looking to impose fines of up to S$100,000 ($75,140) on registered corporate-service providers and their senior management, if they breach rules on anti-money-laundering and illicit financing.

The proposal comes in the wake of a S$3 billion ($2.3 billion) money-laundering scandal involving 10 Chinese-born individuals, who were accused of using ill-gotten gains from remote gambling businesses to fund lavish lifestyles. Many of them had set up companies in Singapore that had local citizens serving as directors and corporate secretaries.

Nominee directors will be required to have their appointments and vetting done by registered corporate-service providers, under the government’s proposals. 

The document did not include a cap on the number of nominee directorships one can hold, which was mentioned by Second Minister for National Development Indranee Rajah in October as to be included in the proposals.

ACRA said it will step up its supervisory and enforcement efforts on persons who hold a large number of nominee directorships, and exhibit other high-risk indicators.

“This is a more robust approach,” the authority said.

Firms linked to the accused in the S$3 billion case had secretaries or directors who had roles in more than 3,000 companies, according to Bloomberg.

The public can provide feedback on the proposal until March 25.