June 24, 2024 3 min read

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Fact-checked by Stoyan Todorov

Singapore Reports Moderate Money Laundering Risk in Land-Based Casinos

While the report notes no direct evidence of land-based casinos engaging in illegal activities, they are acknowledged as cash-rich businesses susceptible to laundering proceeds from criminal activities

According to a Singapore government report jointly issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of Law, and the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the casino industry of Singapore has been identified as carrying a ‘moderate’ risk of being exploited for money laundering

Land-Based Casinos in Singapore Have Limited Appeal to Money Launderers Despite Cash-Rich Status

While it has been mentioned in the report that there is no direct evidence pointing towards the involvement of land-based casinos in illegal activities they have been described as cash-rich businesses which can be used for money laundering of proceeds generated through crime.

The main reason why land-based casinos like Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa are considered less attractive options for money launderers when compared with online gambling platforms is that they lack transnational reach and alternative payment methods such as cryptocurrencies. In addition to this, few criminals have ever tried converting their illicit funds into gaming chips at these establishments so far though some cases have been reported.

The Gambling Regulatory Authority (GRA) of Singapore mandated with oversight over all casino activities within Singapore did not record many suspicious transaction reports connected with money laundering save for instances where someone had broken regulatory controls rather than trying directly to engage in such activities.

One notable case involved a programmer from a bunkering firm who used nearly $1.9 million in illicit commissions to purchase casino chips. Subsequently, he gambled part of the chips and cashed out the remainder to cover personal expenses like housing and car loans.

Recent Raids Highlight Online Gambling’s Role in Money Laundering Schemes

In contrast to land-based casinos, the report highlights online gambling as a more lucrative and challenging area for law enforcement. This was made evident in recent incidents such as that of a large-scale money laundering scheme that operated through illegal Philippine-based gambling websites.

The publication of the report coincides with wider attempts by Singaporean authorities to fight against financial crimes. The Singapore government has been strengthening its Anti-Money Laundering/Countering Financing Terrorism regime over time and this is achieved through strict supervision coupled with enforcement measures including international cooperation where necessary.

At the beginning of June, for example, Singapore performed many police raids on an organization that was involved in illegal online gambling and money laundering. The said operation caused ten foreigners to be apprehended. A 36-year-old Vanuatu citizen identified as S.J. who was charged with forgery of documents and laundering money, was sentenced to jail for seventeen months. 

The operations managed to seize assets worth S$1 billion ($738.9 million), where S$944 million ($697.5 million) have been confiscated by the State authorities. These figures do not take into account investigations currently being conducted on seventeen persons that are beyond Singapore’s borders.

Author

Silvia has dabbled in all sorts of writing – from content writing for social media to movie scripts. She has a Bachelor's in Screenwriting and experience in marketing and producing documentary films. With her background as a customer support agent within the gambling industry, she brings valuable insight to the Gambling News writers’ team.

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