Stanchart's transfer of private banking assets to Singapore comes under MAS' scrutiny

The assets, which were held in a Standard Chartered Bank's Guernsey trust unit for mainly Indonesian clients, were moved in late 2015.
The assets, which were held in a Standard Chartered Bank's Guernsey trust unit for mainly Indonesian clients, were moved in late 2015.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The transfer of US$1.4 billion (S$1.9 billion) of private bank client assets from the English Channel isle of Guernsey to Singapore before new tax transparency rules were introduced has come under the scrutiny of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

The assets, which were held in a Standard Chartered Bank's Guernsey trust unit for mainly Indonesian clients, were moved in late 2015, Bloomberg had reported last week.

The move had come before Guernsey - a self-governing British Crown dependency known as a low-tax, offshore financial centre - adopted the Common Reporting Standard at the start of last year. StanChart closed its operations on the island last year.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, an MAS spokesman said that it "takes a serious view of the matter and will take firm action against any financial institution or individual that is found to have breached MAS' requirements relating to anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism."

The MAS spokesman added: "As our supervisory probe is still ongoing, we are unable to provide more information at this juncture."

MAS also noted that "financial institutions are required to assess and understand the nature and extent of risks posed by their customers; verify the identities of these customers, including beneficial owners; enquire about their source of funds and source of wealth, and monitor customers' transactions as well as perform regular account reviews.

"Where suspicious activities are detected, financial institutions have to apply enhanced scrutiny and report these to the authorities accordingly."