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No significant funds from Myanmar companies and individuals found in Singapore banks: MAS

SINGAPORE: The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said on Tuesday (Feb 23) that its regular surveillance of the banking system has not found "significant funds" from Myanmar individuals and companies in banks in Singapore.

Myanmar's military seized power earlier this month and detained leaders of the National League for Democracy (NLD) on claims of fraud in last year's election that was won by the NLD.

Several countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada have in recent days imposed sanctions on Myanmar's military over the coup, including freezing assets and imposing travel bans against individual members of the military.

"MAS expects financial institutions to remain vigilant to any transactions that could pose risks to the institution, including dealings with companies and individuals subject to financial sanctions by foreign jurisdictions," the regulator said in response to queries about funds from Myanmar companies and individuals in banks in Singapore.

"MAS also expects financial institutions in Singapore, as always, to comply with MAS regulations that implement United Nations Security Council resolutions, and guard against fund flows that could be related to illicit activities."

The regulator added that it "closely supervises" financial institutions to check that processes are in place for compliance and will take appropriate enforcement actions where there are serious lapses.

READ: What does military rule mean for foreign investments in Myanmar?

The European Union has also approved sanctions targeting Myanmar's military and their economic interests and is withholding direct financial support to government reform programmes.

The UN Security Council issued a statement on Feb 4 calling for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and other detained leaders and stressing the need to uphold democracy, but it has not imposed sanctions over the coup.

READ: Widespread sanctions on Myanmar would cause ordinary people to suffer: Vivian Balakrishnan

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan last week urged against the imposition of "widespread sanctions" on Myanmar, saying that such actions would hurt ordinary people the most.

Speaking in Parliament, Dr Balakrishnan said that Singapore hoped for "peaceful resolution and national reconciliation" in Myanmar, and called for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and other leaders.

He noted that Singapore is the largest foreign investor in Myanmar, with cumulative approved investments of US$24 billion as of December last year, and that the major proportion of Singapore's investments in Myanmar occurred in the last five years under the NLD government.

READ: Singapore says use of lethal force in Myanmar against unarmed protesters ‘inexcusable’ after deaths reported

Companies made the decision to invest in Myanmar on commercial grounds and not because of "political influence or political suggestion" on the Government's part, he said, adding firms may have seen promising opportunities in a Myanmar undergoing democratic transition.

"I say all these in order to head off suggestions that we should now interfere on political grounds with commercial decisions," said Dr Balakrishnan.


Source: CNA/agencies/dv


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