Parliament: Law passed to tackle money laundering and terror financing risks in precious stones and metals sector

Senior Minister of State for Law Edwin Tong said the registration process will be streamlined to go fully digital, thereby reducing the burden of compliance.
Senior Minister of State for Law Edwin Tong said the registration process will be streamlined to go fully digital, thereby reducing the burden of compliance.PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Dealers in precious stones and metals will have to register with the Law Ministry and carry out stricter checks on customers, under new laws passed in Parliament on Monday (Feb 11).

Senior Minister of State for Law Edwin Tong said the Law Ministry has streamlined the requirements in the Precious Stones and Precious Metals (Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing) Bill, based on feedback from the industry.

For instance, the registration process will be streamlined to go fully digital, thereby reducing the burden of compliance.

The Law Ministry will continue to work with dealers of precious stones and metals to help them comply with the new rules, said Mr Tong.

Dealers had raised concerns during a month-long public consultation held in September last year.

Mr Tong said the authorities will also, where appropriate, provide materials in different languages as well as issue templates and checklists to help industry players better appreciate and implement the measures.

These will include details on how to perform proper customer due diligence checks, risk assessments, as well as implementing internal policies, procedures and controls.

 
 

Regular seminars, outreach sessions and dialogues will also be held with jewellers, bullion traders, retailers and auctioneers.

Mr Christopher De Souza (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC) said "clarity is important for compliance and effective regulation, yet it is vital that these new regulations do not unduly curb in businesses' creativity when designing products".

He also asked if the new laws cover individuals who buy precious stones or precious minerals in one-off or resale transactions.

Mr Tong said the Bill does not target such individuals.

Mr Murali Pillai (Bukit Batok) had asked what expectations were being placed on dealers to uncover individuals who make multiple purchases without exceeding the $20,000 threshold.

While noting that it may not be practical to require regulated dealers to share information on buyers' identities with rivals, Mr Pillai suggested "pooling information".

Mr Tong said Mr Pillai's suggestion "might be a better way to try to link the different transactions should such an occurrence of multiple transactions occur".

The Law Ministry will be issuing guidance on how personal information should be obtained, handled and kept, he added.

Said Mr Tong: "We will work with the industry to inform the public of the importance and the requirements of the regime. In particular, the need to obtain customers' personal information as part of that due diligence exercise so as to facilitate regulated dealers in the compliance with the regime."