We refer to Professor Sattar Bawany's letter (Questions for MAS on 1MDB, March 23).
Among other things, Prof Bawany asked whether the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) was alerted to 1MDB-related funds being transferred from a Singapore bank to a Malaysian bank account and how much money belonging to Malaysian state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) was currently being held by MAS or the authorities in Singapore.
Like most regulators, MAS does not track the funds flowing into and out of banks in Singapore. To do so, in the absence of an investigation into a possible crime, would be a serious violation of privacy. It is the responsibility of the banks that are a party to these fund flows to ascertain that these flows are not illicit. MAS' role is to supervise the banks on the adequacy and effectiveness of their anti-money laundering controls and to investigate fund flows where there is suspicion of money laundering.
From 2014, MAS carried out a series of supervisory examinations on banks that were suspected to have been used as conduits for 1MDB funds. MAS subsequently shut down BSI Bank and Falcon Private Bank (the bank from which the fund flows cited by Prof Bawany took place) for egregious breaches of our anti-money laundering rules. Financial penalties were imposed on eight banks that were found to have weaknesses in anti-money laundering controls. MAS issued prohibition orders that disallowed eight individuals who committed 1MDB-related criminal offences and misconduct from working in the financial industry, for periods ranging from three years up to lifetime. Singapore courts have also convicted five persons on 1MDB-related charges, including money laundering, cheating, forgery and corruption, filed by the Commercial Affairs Department.
The Singapore authorities have been providing Malaysia with information on 1MDB-related fund flows since March 2015. In September 2018, Singapore courts ordered the return of $15.3 million misappropriated from 1MDB to the Malaysian government. Lawyers acting for the Malaysian government are working with the Singapore authorities on the return of further assets linked to 1MDB.
We are unable to provide more detailed answers to Prof Bawany's questions so as to avoid prejudicing ongoing investigations here and in other countries.
Combating money laundering is a priority for MAS. We are firmly committed to safeguarding Singapore as a clean and trusted financial centre.
Director (Corporate Communications)
Monetary Authority of Singapore