Singapore branch of Swiss bank fined for breaching anti-money laundering requirements

The Singapore branch of the Swiss wealth manager Bank J Safra Sarasin (BJS) was fined $750,000 by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) for serious breaches of anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) requirements.

According to MAS, the bank failed to establish the source of wealth and source of funds of customers and beneficial owners of the customers. It also failed to adequately inquire into the background and purpose of unusually large or unusual patterns of customer transactions that had no obvious economic purpose. The breaches were done between March 2014 and September 2018.

MAS said, “These breaches resulted from material lapses in BJS’s AML/CFT control processes during customer onboarding and in the ongoing monitoring of business relations with customers, which had placed BJS at higher risk of being used as a conduit for illicit activities.”

The penalty amount was decided to address deficiencies that were identified by MAS. The regulator has also instructed the bank to appoint an independent party to validate the effectiveness of its remediation measures and report the findings to MAS.

Commenting on the penalty, MAS assistant managing director Loo Siew Yee said, “Financial institutions engaging in private banking business must be vigilant in guarding against the risk of dealing with illicit wealth.

“Given the potential complexity of private bank clients’ profiles, it is particularly important that clients’ representations regarding their source of wealth and funds are scrutinised and corroborated by objective evidence.”


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