What with all the election news, how many caught this article on Singapore’s crackdown? (excerpt)
The authorities are keen to ensure the city-state is not seen as a tax haven for the wealthy from Europe, China, Indonesia, Malaysia and elsewhere without dulling its allure as an oasis for the rich, replete with casinos, luxury properties and high-end boutiques and restaurants. More than 70 percent of Singapore's S$1.34 trillion ($1.08 trillion) in assets under management at the end of 2011 came from overseas, an MAS survey showed.
SINGAPORE: Banks in Singapore are urgently scrutinizing their account holders as an imminent deadline on stricter tax evasion measures forces them to decide whether to send some of their wealthiest clients packing.
The Southeast Asian city-state has grown into the world's fourth-biggest offshore financial center but, with U.S. and European regulators on the hunt for tax cheats, the government is clamping down to forestall the kind of onslaught from foreign authorities that is now hitting Switzerland's banks.
Before July 1, all financial institutions in Singapore must identify accounts they strongly suspect hold proceeds of fraudulent or wilful tax evasion and, where necessary, close them. After that, handling the proceeds of tax crimes will be a criminal offence under changes to the city-state's anti-money laundering law.
"Because of banking secrecy, Singapore used to be an attractive place to put money if you didn't want the authorities back home to know about it," said Erik Wilgenhof Plante, head of compliance at Germany's DZ Privatbank in Singapore.
"That has left legacy problems for some banks."…
...Banks in Singapore already have strict controls to guard against handling money from crimes such as drug trafficking and corruption but have never had a legal obligation to report on tax evaders - unlike rival financial centre Hong Kong....
...New foreign clients may find that banks become far more picky and inquisitive as the change in mindset takes hold.
"The good old times in Singapore are over," said the European banker. "We don't need that dirty money anymore."
Legacy problem…I like that.
“High-risk” accounts must be terminated by June 30 this year – banks will have another year to review all other accounts.
While I doubt this will put much of a dent in illicit capital flows going through Singapore, it’s going to be a little tougher than it used to be.