Foreign Corruption and Money Laundering – A comparision of US & Singapore

25 Feb

It appears that banks have no qualms in enriching themselves with ill-gotten money as long as they are able to find legal loopholes.

The United States Senate Permanent subcommittee on Investigations has recently released a report documenting four case studies of how “Politically Exposed Persons” or PEPs (another term for dictators) have engaged the services of US lawyers, real estate and escrow agents, lobbyists, bankers, and university officials ‘to circumvent U.S. anti-money laundering and anti- corruption safeguards’.

This is comparable to Singapore’s status as a country for attracting questionable foreign monies.  According to the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), much of the country’s wealth has been the result of the inflow of illegal money from neighbouring, especially corrupt Indonesian and Chinese businesses due to the secrecy provisions in banking.

In an opinion piece on the US report by Chris Albin-Lackey, a senior researcher for business and human rights for Human Rights Watch,

… legal loopholes and lax regulations let foreign kleptocrats treat America like a carefree shopping paradise while their people starve back home…

Furthermore,

… it’s the easy relationships between corrupt officials and their U.S. business partners that really should attract scrutiny. Banks, lawyers, real estate agents and others have made hefty profits off their partnerships with some of the world’s biggest looters and most repressive politicians…

This situation parallels Singapore’s case. As another SDP commentary notes,

… Such an approach [of secrecy in attracting foreign money] not only attracts foreign funds but also foreign opprobrium. There are more than concerns that Singapore has become a tax haven in the mould of Switzerland, a place where individuals and corporations go to deposit their cash, often to avoid taxation in their own countries…

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