Singapore’s Shocking $735M Crypto Money Laundering Sting Shakes the Market

On Tuesday this week, the local police in Singapore made a significant move, apprehending 10 foreign nationals suspected of engaging in money laundering. The authorities have seized assets valued at around S$1 billion, which encompasses cryptocurrencies along with other assets. In an official statement the following Wednesday, the police disclosed that they had taken into custody 10 individuals, most of whom held Chinese passports. These individuals were apprehended due to their alleged participation in activities related to forgery, money laundering, and resisting lawful capture.

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The operation resulted in the confiscation of 94 properties and 50 vehicles, collectively worth an estimated S$815 million. Additionally, the police obtained control of 11 documents containing information about virtual assets, though the specific value of these crypto holdings hasn’t been disclosed. The police have also assumed control over more than 35 associated bank accounts, carrying an approximate combined balance of at least S$110 million. In a separate development, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced on Wednesday that it collaborated with the authorities to support the investigation and identify potentially tainted funds and assets within the country’s financial system.

I think this is an important inflection point because Singapore, a major financial center in Asia, has been making significant strides in the cryptocurrency industry these past few years. Singapore’s vulnerability to global risks associated with money laundering and terrorism financing might become a hurdle to further web3 and crypto adoption. Just the previous day, the country concluded the formulation of stricter regulations governing stablecoins. There is always a thin line between implementing sensible regulatory measures and stifling innovation. 

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Jeff Sekinger

Founder & CEO, Nurp LLC

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