S'pore to keep up fight against money laundering: Lawrence Wong

Finance Minister Lawrence Wong attended the ministerial meeting of the Financial Action Task Force on April 21, 2022. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF FINANCE

SINGAPORE - Singapore will continue to play its part in the global fight against money laundering and terrorist financing, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said on Saturday (April 23).

Mr Wong gave this assurance in a Facebook post, after he attended a ministerial meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) - a global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog - in Washington last Thursday.

Mr Wong, who has been on a 10-day work trip in the US since April 16, met other leaders such as FATF president Marcus Pleyer, Canada's Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak.

Following the meeting, FATF ministers committed to taking decisive action to fight illicit money transfers, including implementing global rules strengthened this year to stop criminals from hiding dirty money behind shell companies.

Mr Wong attended the ministerial meeting with Mr T. Raja Kumar, who is senior adviser for international matters at the Ministry of Home Affairs and the current head of Singapore's delegation to FATF.

Mr Raja will assume the post of FATF president on July 1 for a fixed two-year term. Singapore has been a member of the task force since 1992, and this will be the first time it is taking on the presidency.

Mr Raja has, since July 2018, been part of the steering group that provides advice to the FATF president. He has also served as co-chairman of the national inter-agency committee on anti-money laundering and countering financing of terrorism since January 2015, and has driven Singapore's efforts to meet FATF standards.

Finance Minister Lawrence Wong attended the ministerial meeting of Financial Action Task Force with Mr T. Raja Kumar. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF FINANCE

Established in 1989, FATF is an inter-governmental body that sets international standards to prevent and combat money laundering and terrorism and proliferation financing.

These standards help governments deal with proceeds from transactions of illegal drugs, human trafficking and other crimes.

The task force also works against funding for weapons of mass destruction. It evaluates and monitors member jurisdictions to ensure that they implement the standards fully and effectively.

In a joint declaration after the meeting, FATF ministers said the body is committed to further work on beneficial ownership of legal arrangements such as trusts to improve transparency and prevent abuse of corporate structures.

The ministers also committed to getting the FATF to lead global efforts to help countries build meaningful and effective asset recovery capabilities, which can improve the clawback of criminal proceeds and return these assets to victims.

An effective system to deprive criminals of monies will also remove incentives to criminal activity and protect the financial system, the statement added.

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