MAS advises banks in Singapore to tell clients to regularise tax affairs

The Monetary Authority of Singapore has advised banks to encourage their clients to take advantage of tax amnesty programmes to get their tax affairs in order.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore has advised banks to encourage their clients to take advantage of tax amnesty programmes to get their tax affairs in order. PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

SINGAPORE - Banks must file a suspicious transaction report if they handle a tax amnesty case but this does not necessarily mean the client will be investigated by police, the Monetary Authority of Singapore said.

The MAS statement came after a Reuters report said that private banks here are handing police the names of clients who are embracing the Indonesian tax amnesty.

The regulator said that it has advised banks to encourage their clients to take advantage of tax amnesty programmes to get their tax affairs in order.

Banks are required to then file the suspicious transaction report, similar to the practice in other jurisdictions, said the MAS, adding that this is part of the Financial Action Task Force standard adopted globally.

 

Indonesia started a tax amnesty programme in July in a bid to retrieve some of the funds that its citizens may have stashed in private bank accounts around the world.

"The moment the client tells you he's participating in the amnesty, you have a suspicion that the assets with you are not compliant, and so, you have to report to the authorities," a senior executive at a Singapore-based wealth manager was quoted as telling Reuters.

However, the MAS emphasised that "participation in a tax amnesty programme, in and of itself, would not attract criminal investigation in Singapore".

The spokesman also said: "The expectation for a suspicious transaction report to be filed on account of a client participating in a tax amnesty programme should therefore not discourage clients from participation."

A police investigation will start only when there are reasons to suspect that a criminal offence under Singapore laws has been committed, added the MAS.