As part of efforts to enhance industry awareness of anti-money laundering (AML) and countering the financing of terrorism (CFT), CEA and CAD conducted a second joint industry outreach/briefing session on 27 July 2015 at the HDB Auditorium. The event was attended by some 350 participants.
In his opening remarks, CEA Deputy Executive Director Lee Kwong Weng said that “AML and CFT are very important issues and the Singapore government takes them seriously”. He emphasised the important role the real estate agency industry has to play in AML and CFT, and that “we must not let the industry be unwittingly made use of to finance terrorism”.
In the first of two briefings, CAD Commercial Affairs Officer Fam Suen Li highlighted the vulnerabilities of the real estate sector to money laundering and terrorism financing through the sharing of case studies. CEA Principal Manager (Policy & Planning) Cedric Peeris then brought the audience through the requirements in the Practice Circular on prevention of money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism, and key learning points from inspections of estate agents for compliance with AML/CFT measures.
The participants were reminded that lodging a Suspicious Transaction Report (STR) is a legal obligation. STRs play an important role in combating money laundering and terrorism financing. Under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act [CDSA], it is mandatory for a person, in the course of his/her business or employment, to lodge a STR if he/she knows or has reason to suspect that any property may be connected to a criminal activity. Failure to disclose such knowledge, suspicion, or other related information constitutes an offence punishable by a fine not exceeding $20,000.
Other than briefing sessions, CEA issued a revised Practice Circular on AML and CFT in February 2015, which superseded the previous circular issued in November 2013.
The updated circular sought to increase industry understanding on issues relating to AML/CFT. It provided information on the measures to prevent against such activities that might be conducted through property transactions. Also highlighted were the key provisions, offences and obligations for compliance by estate agents and salespersons. CEA also provided a self-assessment checklist to guide estate agents on AML/CFT procedures, training and compliance management.