Singapore busts $735 million alleged money laundering case involving crypto

Quick Take

  • Police in Singapore said it seized 11 documents with information on cryptocurrency assets, but it’s unclear how much worth of crypto was involved.
  • The city-state remains committed to regulating the crypto industry, with rules finalized Tuesday to govern stablecoins.

Singaporean police Tuesday arrested 10 foreign nationals on suspicion of money laundering and seized assets worth about S$1 billion ($735 million) including cryptocurrencies, the police said.

In a statement on Wednesday, the police said it had arrested 10 people, most of whom possessed Chinese passports, for their suspected involvement in offenses of forgery, money laundering and resistance to lawful apprehension. 

Specifically, the police seized 94 properties and 50 vehicles with a total estimated value of over S$815 million. The police also took hold of 11 documents with information on virtual assets, the authorities said, without elaborating on the value of the crypto assets.

The police also seized over 35 related bank accounts with a total estimated balance of at least S$110 million.

MAS to strengthen AML detection

The Monetary Authority of Singapore said Wednesday that it had worked with the authorities to facilitate the development of the case and identify potentially tainted funds and assets in the country’s financial system.

Ho Hern Shin, a deputy managing director of the MAS, said the case has “highlighted that as a global financial hub, Singapore remains vulnerable to transnational (money laundering and terrorism financing) risks” and that the regulator needs to work further with financial institutions to “strengthen our defences against these risks.”

Singapore has emerged as one of Asia’s most important hubs for the cryptocurrency industry. Just on Tuesday, the country finalized new rules governing stablecoins.

Last week, the MAS announced a commitment of up to S$150 million over three years under a fintech and innovation program that includes a track to support Web 3.0 technology.

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