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MAS Steps Up Scrutiny of China Wealth

A Report by CYS Global Remit Legal & Compliance Office 

Singapore has intensified its scrutiny of Chinese wealth entering the city-state, in light of the recent money laundering scandal.  Since January, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has rejected two family office applications with Chinese-affiliated wealth, according to sources familiar with the matter.  These rejections extend to individuals holding solely Chinese passports or those with additional foreign passports.  While the rejections were communicated in written format, they lacked detailed explanations, as evidenced by an email seen by Nikkei Asia.  


Conversely, there has been at least one recent approval for a non-Chinese national applicant, according to sources.  However, MAS does not publicly disclose the breakdown of applications or rejections.  


Chinese nationals seeking to establish family offices in Singapore are encountering increased scrutiny this year, with inquiries covering various aspects such as the number of passports held by applicants and any mainland regulatory actions affecting entities connected to them, potentially impacting Singapore's anti-money laundering efforts.  


Family offices, seeking tax breaks, submit applications to MAS, although they may opt to operate in Singapore without utilizing these incentives. As of the end of 2023, there were 1,400 single-family offices qualified for incentives, reflecting a 27% increase from the previous year, according to official figures.  


These rejections coincide with Singapore's ongoing investigation into its largest money laundering case. In August, authorities arrested 10 individuals of various nationalities in connection with the case, resulting in the seizure or freezing of assets worth over 3 billion Singapore dollars ($2.3 billion).


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