Singapore dollars, scattered money, various banknotes, business and economic background

Singapore has seized S$6 billion ($4.4 billion) linked to criminal and money laundering activities over the past five years. Half of this illicit money was seized during a record scandal last year.

Of the amount confiscated between January 2019 and June 2024, S$416 million has been returned to victims while S$1 billion has been forfeited to the state, according to a government report released Wednesday. The report stated that in last year’s S$3 billion money laundering case, approximately S$944 million has already been forfeited to the state.

Authorities in the city-state have observed that money laundering activities are becoming increasingly sophisticated, involving the rapid movement of large sums of illicit funds and impacting victims across borders, according to the report outlining the country’s approach to recovering illicit assets.

“Even the most stringent anti-money laundering regimes can be circumvented by determined criminals who will continuously search for gaps to exploit,” Prime Minister Lawrence Wong said at the opening of the Financial Action Task Force Plenary. However, he added that measures should not be over-zealous and stifle legitimate investments.

The global watchdog, which is meeting in Singapore this week, is poised to add Venezuela and Monaco to its “gray list” for failing to make sufficient progress in curbing illicit financial flows.

Among ongoing measures to combat money laundering risks, the city-state has been demanding more information from family offices and hedge funds while increasing the closure of dormant firms, Bloomberg News has reported. Banks in the financial hub are also intensifying scrutiny of their wealthy customers and potential clients to avoid exposure to illicit flows, according to sources familiar with the matter.