Singapore is considering tighter regulations at its casinos in an effort to prevent money laundering and financing for terrorism, according to the Casino Regulatory Authority (CRA). The move comes after it was reported that the Singapore casino of Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp. is being probed by the US Department of Justice over whether anti-money laundering regulations were breached in the way it handled the accounts of top gamblers.
The regulator has already asked casino operators to lower the threshold for cash transactions that are subject to due diligence to S$5,000 (US$3,592), half the current legislated level, a spokesman told Bloomberg. Singapore's formal threshold is much higher than the global standard of US$3,000 (S$4,180) set by the anti-money laundering watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF), said the CRA.
"The Ministry of Home Affairs and CRA are reviewing the legislative thresholds in the Casino Control Act with a view to lowering these thresholds further to fully comply with the FATF Standards," it added.
Last week, Bloomberg reported that the US Justice Department in January issued a grand jury subpoena to a former compliance chief of Marina Bay Sands Pte, seeking an interview or documents on "money laundering facilitation" and any abuse of internal financial controls, according to a copy of the subpoena seen by Bloomberg News, which reported that Marina Bay Sands and its parent company have not received any requests from the Department of Justice.
MBS also faces a probe in Singapore by the CRA into its money transfer policies. Claims about these transfers surfaced in a lawsuit filed last year by Mr Wang Xi, who sued MBS seeking to recover $9.1 million that he said was sent to other casino patrons in 2015 without his approval. The Singapore Police Force is also investigating his complaint.
The review of the legislative thresholds was not prompted by any investigation, said the CRA. The regulator said it is "committed to ensuring that the casinos in Singapore, including MBS, remain free from criminal influence or exploitation, and takes a serious view of any allegations of unauthorised money transfers".
The CRA outlined the changes in due diligence thresholds in response to Bloomberg's request for comment on the FATF report, which said last year the city-state had inadequate customer due diligence requirements for entities such as casinos and real estate agents. It said "moderate shortcomings are still affecting" the two sectors, without citing any companies.
Last year, the Singapore Government agreed to extend licences to operate casinos held by Genting Singapore and Las Vegas Sands to 2030, in exchange for pledges to invest a combined $9 billion in tourism projects.