According to a recent report

Singapore's casinos deemed at medium-high risk of being exploited for environmental crime money laundering

Marina Bay Sands Singapore
Reading time 1:38 min

According to a new report issued by multiple Singapore agencies, the country's casino industry has been named as one of four sectors deemed at medium-high risk of being exploited for environmental crime money laundering.

On Wednesday, the "Environmental Crimes Money Laundering National Risk Assessment" was published by the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Monetary Authority of Singapore, and the Ministry of Finance. The report provides a detailed overview of the nation's environmental crime money laundering risk environment and identifies key threats, vulnerabilities, controls and areas of enhancement.

According to the assessment, environmental crimes generate between $110 billion and $281 billion in criminal gains globally every year. Furthermore, it states that due to the country's status as an international financial center and an international trading and transport hub with a strong externally oriented economy, it is utilized by criminal groups as a transit country for environmental crimes, such as those associated with illegal wildlife trafficking or illegal logging and waste trafficking.

While banks and remittance agents are named high-risk sectors, casinos rank alongside money changers, corporate service providers, and Virtual Assets Service Providers as medium-high-risk sectors.

The report notes that the casino industry is "largely cash-based, and cash can be used to purchase casino chips which act as a store value and can be accepted as an alternative to money. As such, criminals could purchase casino chips to launder proceeds of environmental crimes at the integration stage."

The assessment adds that Singapore's casinos have filed Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs) relating to adverse news on environmental crimes linked to their casino customers, indicating a "certain level of risk awareness on the part of casinos regarding potential laundering of environmental crimes proceeds through their operations" and pointing to "the vulnerability of the casinos to environmental crimes money laundering."

However, the report stated that, to date, the agencies are "not aware of any cases where casinos have been used for environmental crimes money laundering in Singapore." It adds that casinos must stay vigilant because although there are no known instances of environmental crimes or money laundering in Singapore, there have been cases elsewhere in Asia.

"International typologies indicate an instance where a criminal network, tied to wildlife trafficking of pangolins, tigers, rhinoceros, and elephants, used a casino in Laos (within a special economic zone) to facilitate wildlife trafficking," the report states.

"Financial sanctions were imposed by the US Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control for this engagement in illicit activity and for exploiting the special economic zone," the report details. 

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