$65m in ill-gotten gains seized by CAD, increase in white-collar crimes

White-collar crime getting more complex, larger in scale: Report

WHITE-COLLAR crime investigators here seized over $65 million in suspected criminal proceeds between 2011 and 2012.

These increasingly sophisticated offences come as Singapore emerges as a leading financial centre with increased capital flows and rapid improvements in telecommunications and technology, said Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) director Tan Boon Gin in a note published in the agency's annual report.

"The sophistication, complexity and scale of financial crime are greater than before," he wrote.

To adapt to these changes, the CAD is increasing its numbers to meet the needs of a "major, and trusted, financial centre".

The department is also reorganising itself to build new capabilities to deal with the variety of commercial crimes.

Its report comes after annual figures were released last month showing a 10 per cent drop in commercial crimes between 2011 and last year - from 3,880 cases to 3,483. These consist mainly of cheating and related offences.

Payment card fraud decreased by 37 per cent from 2011 to last year.

Investment scams have grown in size and complexity, and they "flourish" because of higher returns promised amid a low interest-rate environment, said Mr Tan.

He added that financial services were now also "more readily available" to criminals.

Non-financial crimes such as money lending, which were traditionally cash-intensive, now involve criminals attempting to take advantage of payment systems.

To overcome this, officers from the CAD and other law enforcement agencies will go through a new training curriculum to help each agency develop its capabilities for financial investigation.

The training will be conducted by the department in partnership with the Home Team School of Criminal Investigation.

Commissioner of Police Ng Joo Hee said in the report, which was released earlier this month, that the CAD faces a significant challenge in dealing with today's crimes which are complex, multi-dimensional and often international in scale.

"This presents a formidable challenge to the department, demanding that it keeps constantly in tune with an ever-changing business sector, and maintains a high degree of nimbleness and adaptability," said Mr Ng.

But he added that the CAD is "plugged tightly" into an extensive network of international collaborators and has access to secret intelligence and high technology.

"Its officers are persistent, tenacious, thoroughly schooled in the investigative arts and singularly devoted to bringing the crooked to justice," said Mr Ng.