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     FrontPage Edition: Thu 20 September 2007

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Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act passed


Second Reading Speech for the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act

Mr Speaker, Sir, I beg to move that the Bill be now read a second time.
Sir, in 1999, the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act, or CDSA, was created with the amalgamation of the Drug Trafficking (Confiscation of Benefits) Act and the Corruption (Confiscation of Benefits) Act.
The CDSA is the primary instrument to criminalise the laundering of benefits derived from corruption, drug trafficking and other serious crimes, as well as to allow for the investigation and confiscation of such benefits.
Since 1999, when the Act was first introduced, the global security climate has undergone significant changes.
There is an urgent need for us to address the increasingly complex challenges posed by the abuse of our financial systems by terrorists and money launderers.
The devastating 9/11 attacks underscores the urgent need for Governments around the world to implement measures to suppress terrorist financing as part of the global effort to combat terrorism.
At the same time, law enforcement agencies worldwide are combating the financial aspects of crime which have also become more complex due to rapid advances in technology and the globalisation of the financial services industry.
To keep pace with these changes, MHA reviewed the CDSA to update and amend some of the provisions. These amendments will enable the Commercial Affairs Department or CAD to carry out its functions more effectively to meet these new and demanding challenges.
The amendments cover three broad areas.
First, to enhance our current anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing regime;
second, to enhance anti-money laundering measures; and third, to augment the Suspicious Transaction Reporting or STR regime.
At the same time, my Ministry will also take the opportunity to streamline and regularise our current ground practices. I will now touch on the key amendments proposed in this Bill.
Key Amendments
Cash Courier Regime
In 1991, Singapore joined the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF) to demonstrate that we are a committed and responsible partner to the international initiatives to combat crime. FATF is an inter-Governmental body formed in 1989 by the G-7 to combat money laundering globally.
In the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the FATF introduced 9 Special Recommendations to deny terrorists’ access to the international financial system.
One of these Special Recommendations introduced in October 2004 requires countries to implement a Cash Courier regime. After studying the Cash Courier regime implemented in other FATF member countries such as the United States and Australia, we are now ready to implement a similar requirement in Singapore to enhance our counter-terrorism and anti-money laundering measures.
Clause 11 of the Bill makes it mandatory for anyone physically carrying currency and bearer negotiable instruments or CBNI, above S$30,000, into or out of Singapore, to declare this to the authorities at the checkpoints.
The Declaration forms will be made available on board planes, ferries and cruise ships entering Singapore, as well as at locations such as all our checkpoints, branches of Singapore Post and Neighbourhood Police Centres.
But let me say that the new regime is not meant to be a form of currency control as travellers are entitled to bring in or out as much CBNI as they desire so long as an accurate declaration is made in the appropriate circumstances.
The threshold amount of S$30,000 is based on the recommendation by the FATF, and includes not only currency in circulation, but also bearer negotiable instruments such as travellers cheques, money orders, cheques, bonds and promissory notes.
A bearer negotiable instrument is one that allows any person holding any of the instruments mentioned, to receive the monetary value stated in it.
Hence, anyone who brings in or leaves Singapore with any instruments that are indorsed without restriction, or made out to a fictitious payee, or with the payee’s name omitted, for example, a signed cheque with the amount filled in but with the payee’s name left blank, or otherwise payable to order or bearer, must declare it to the ICA officers before leaving or entering Singapore.
Hence, for clarity, a crossed cheque made payable to a specific person with the word “bearer” deleted is not considered a bearer negotiable instrument because only the person named on the cheque can receive the amount stated on it.
The new measure would be non-discriminatory and will be imposed on all travellers, including citizens, residents and foreigners, entering and exiting the country.
The penalties for non-declaration and false declaration are a maximum fine of S$50,000 or a term of imprisonment of up to 3 years or both.
However, I would like to reassure the House that my Ministry will work with the relevant agencies to educate the public and all travellers arriving and departing at our checkpoints before the new law takes effect.

Source: News 19 Sep 2007

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