Public feedback wanted on proposed changes to Trustees Act

Public feedback wanted on proposed changes to Trustees Act

The proposed amendments underline Singapore’s commitment as a responsible member of the international community to global efforts in countering money laundering, terrorism financing and tax evasion, the Law Ministry says.

SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Law (MinLaw) will be gathering public feedback on proposed amendments to the Trustees Act through a public consultation from Thursday (Jan 12) to Jan 31, it said in a press release on Thursday.

The Trustees Act governs the law relating to trusts, which are arrangements where one or more people control property on behalf of others.

MinLaw said the proposed amendments underline Singapore’s commitment as a responsible member of the international community to global efforts in countering money laundering, terrorism financing and tax evasion.

The suggested changes include provisions to empower the Minister for Law to make rules to:

(i) Prescribe duties on trustees to obtain and maintain financial records, as well as information on the parties relevant to and dealing with the trust;

(ii) Prescribe the specific groups of trusts which are exempted from the proposed amendments;

(iii) Designate any breach of such rules as an offence; and

(iv) Impose a penalty of a fine not exceeding S$1,000 for any breaches of the obligations.

In the press release, MinLaw said that as a member of the Financial Action Task Force and Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, Singapore takes reference from international standards set by these bodies.

The proposed amendments seek to give effect to these requirements by enhancing the transparency of the ownership and control structures of trusts and prescribing minimum standards for financial record keeping by trustees, the ministry added.

"Singapore takes a tough stance on financial crime to maintain its reputation as a clean and trusted international financial centre, and has over the years invested substantial efforts to enhance its anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing regime," it said in the news release.

"They form part of Singapore’s whole-of-government ongoing review to ensure that corporate vehicles and trusts are not misused for improper purposes."

Source: CNA/mz