SINGAPORE: The recent billion-dollar money laundering case will be addressed in three ministerial statements at the next Parliament sitting on Tuesday (Oct 3).
According to the order paper released on Monday, Second Minister for Home Affairs Josephine Teo, Minister of State for Trade and Industry Alvin Tan, and Second Minister for Finance and National Development Indranee Rajah will be giving the statements on the case. Mr Tan will address parliament on behalf of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong.
In one of Singapore’s biggest money laundering probes, ten foreigners were arrested in August when the Singapore police raided multiple locations, including Good Class Bungalows and condominiums, across the island. Those arrested are either Chinese nationals or former Chinese citizens. Some hold multiple passports from other countries.
The value of assets seized or frozen in the money laundering case has since snowballed to over S$2.4 billion (US$1.8 billion), more than double the original S$1 billion total value of luxury cars, houses, cash and other assets thrown up in August.
More than 30 questions on money-laundering were filed by Members of Parliaments for the previous sitting in mid-September. Minister of State for Home Affairs Sun Xueling told Parliament on Sep 18 that these queries would be addressed “comprehensively” in a ministerial statement.
For the Tuesday’s sitting, more than a dozen questions were filed.
MP Zhulkarnain Abdul Rahim (PAP-Chua Chu Kang) asked how the Monetary Authority of Singapore is working with relevant agencies to prevent movable assets such as jewellery and luxury watches as a form of money laundering.
MP Murali Pillai (PAP- Bukit Batok) also asked about whether the 10 suspects are currently or will be investigated for running any organised crime syndicate in or from Singapore, and whether additional steps will be taken to protect the real estate market from being targeted by money launderers.
MP Gan Thiam Poh (PAP-Ang Moh Kio) asked if the police would initiate investigations and arrest those on the wanted list for criminal offences in another country but not on the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol).
Some questions were also raised about how the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) regulates business entities.
MP Don Wee (PAP-Chua Chu Kang) asked whether ACRA pays attention or conducts surveillance on foreign directors, beneficial owners and local directors appearing to be nominee directors, while MP Saktiandi Supaat (PAP-Bishan-Toa Payoh) asked about how many ACRA-registered businesses are currently “dormant” and how often does the authority check on the reasons why inactive companies remain registered.
Billion-dollar money laundering case: What charges do the 10 suspects face and what is the value of assets seized?
Parliamentary questions on S$1 billion money laundering case to be answered in October ministerial statement
RISING COST OF LIVING
The recent announcement of a public transport fare hike in December will also come into focus with a series of questions from MPs.
MP Yip Hon Weng (PAP-Yio Chu Kang) asked if deferring public transport fare increments will be sustainable amid the rising cost of living in Singapore. He also asked if the Ministry of Transport has imposed measures on public transport operators to streamline processes and reduce expenses to address the rising costs.
MP Louis Chua (WP-Sengkang) wanted to know if there are plans by the Public Transport Council to remove the 15.6 per cent fare increase deferred for future fare review exercises, after this year’s 7 per cent rise.
MP Mariam Jaafar (PAP-Sembawang) asked about the mean and median monthly spend on public transport over the past year by seniors and people with disabilities, and if the Transport Ministry will consider introducing hybrid monthly concession passes.
Amid rising food prices at hawker centres, she also wanted to know what proportion of meals sold at a hawker stall are budget meals and whether the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment has received feedback from hawkers that offering such meals is becoming difficult to sustain.
In another question, Ms Mariam also asked the Ministry of Trade and Industry about the number of cases referred to the Committee Against Profiteering per quarter since it reconvened in March 2022. She wanted to know how many of these cases were found to constitute profiteering, the penalties imposed, and the number of repeat complaints received.
CIVIL SERVANTS’ SALARIES
Following a rejection of her party’s motion to suspend Transport Minister S Iswaran, Progress Singapore Party’s (PSP) Non-Constituency MP Hazel Poa submitted two questions regarding civil servants’ salary.
The PSP motion had called for Mr Iswaran to be suspended as an MP for the remainder of the current session of parliament. He was arrested in July and is under investigation by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB).
But Leader of the House Indranee Rajah filed a counter-motion for parliament to consider the matter when the outcome of the probe against Mr Iswaran is known.
In her questions, Ms Poa asked Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong about the upper and lower limit of salaries for suspended civil servants on reduced pay.
She also wanted to know how many civil servants have been suspended on full pay or less since 2000, and the basis for suspending on no pay.