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Private bank fined $1m for lapses in anti-money laundering measures


In failing to comply with counter-money laundering measures and terrorist financing rules, Bank J. Safra Sarasin (BJS), the Singapore branch of a Swiss-based private bank, has been fined $1 million.

The penalty is for breaches between March 2014 and September 2018. These included:

  • BJS failed to establish the source of its customers' funds by appropriate and reasonable means.

  • BJS relied on customers' representations without corroboration.

  • BJS failed to adequately inquire into unusually large or abnormal patterns of customer transactions that had no obvious economic purpose.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said yesterday

  • The lapses arose during the process of signing on customers and monitoring their business relations, which put BJS at higher risk of being used as a conduit for illicit activities.

BJS has been ordered to appoint an independent party to validate its measures' effectiveness and report the findings to the MAS.

Ms Loo Siew Yee, assistant managing director of policy, payments and financial crime at MAS, 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."