TL;DR

Who: MAS, Ng Chee Meng and NParks

Weekly Business Brief | 2019 Week 33

Wrapping up the week's business news and announcements.

SBO Singapore Weekly Business Brief
Published:   |   Updated:   |   Posted in

Singapore steps up scrutiny of shell firms to combat money laundering

But the relative ease of starting a business in Singapore renders it potentially more vulnerable to misuse of shell firms…

Singapore’s central bank is raising its guard against money launderers increasingly using onshore shell companies to mask their transactions, a senior official said.

Singapore’s position as one of the world’s leading financial centers and a trade hub make it particularly vulnerable to money laundering due to large cross-border flows.

Traditionally, money launderers and tax evaders have used shell companies in offshore centers worldwide. But the relative ease of starting a business in Singapore renders it potentially more vulnerable to misuse of shell firms, which otherwise have many legitimate purposes.

Tay, a 20-year veteran at MAS and former journalist, said red flags at shell companies included disproportionately large or high velocity transactions and unusual patterns in dealings.

She said the MAS has told banks to “actively look for shell companies that can be abused for illicit financing. So there’s a supervisory expectation for pro-active detection and disruption of illicit finance.”

Data analytics and network analysis had helped banks map out relationship linkages to detect unlawful transactions at shell companies in the past year, Tay said.

Read more in this Reuters report.

More than 50 firms voluntarily raise retirement, re-employment ages: Ng Chee Meng

Mr Ng… admitted that there has been some resistance from employers, with worries mainly surrounding costs.

More than 50 companies have voluntarily raised the retirement or re-employment ages of their workers beyond the statutory requirements, said NTUC secretary-general Ng Chee Meng on Thursday (Aug 15).

He has been urging employers here to do so and this is a “pretty decent” response, said the labour chief in an interview with CNA938, adding that workers have also been “very appreciative of these moves”.

NTUC said in July about 20 unionised companies had either raised the retirement age or did not stipulate a retirement age for its workers. These companies include the Gardens by the Bay, Novotel Clarke Quay Singapore and ComfortDelGro Group.

Nevertheless, Mr Ng, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, admitted that there has been some resistance from employers, with worries mainly surrounding costs.

Apart from wages, these costs can include the healthcare needs of older workers, such as insurance and medical leave.

Given how businesses are grappling with uncertainties in the external environment, on top of domestic cost pressures, these are “valid considerations”.

“I think they are not unfair in stating those concerns,” he said.

“We will have to sit down, put our concerns and challenges on the table, and really think through these issues as tripartite partners.”

Read more in this Channel NewsAsia report.

Singapore to ban domestic trade in ivory

After the ban comes into effect, traders can donate their stock to institutions for educational purposes or keep them. 

Singapore will ban domestic trade in elephant ivory from September 2021, the National Parks Board (NParks) said on Monday (Aug 12).

The ban will mean that the sale of elephant ivory and ivory products will be prohibited in Singapore, NParks said. The display of the products for sale will also not be allowed.

The ban will take effect on Sep 1, 2021.

While Singapore has banned international trade on all forms of elephant ivory products since 1990, domestic trade is still permitted if traders show that their items were imported before 1990 or were acquired before the inclusion of the relevant elephant species in CITES.

After the ban comes into effect, traders can donate their stock to institutions for educational purposes or keep them.

Public display of elephant ivory or ivory products for educational or religious purposes will continue to be permitted. Those who own musical instruments and personal effects like bird cages that contain ivory may continue to use them in public, NParks said.

Singapore’s ban offers no exceptions, potentially making it the world’s strictest ivory ban in scope and implementation, said the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

Read more in this Channel NewsAsia report.


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