Anti-Money Laundering – A Whole of Nation Effort


Feb 2024 - 3 min read

Over 100 participants from the real estate agency industry came together for a Dialogue with Ms Indranee Rajah, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and 2nd Minister for Finance and National Development, on Singapore’s anti-money laundering (AML) efforts. The event, held in Jan 2024, was organised by the Ministry of National Development (MND) and CEA.

Representatives from industry associations and estate agents participated actively in the discussions on the topic of Singapore’s anti money laundering measures and contributed suggestions on how the real estate agency industry can play a more effective role as a gate-keeper against money laundering through real estate.

Kicking-off the session, Minister shared why serious financial crimes such as money laundering are a scourge to Singapore. She highlighted the far reaching consequences on Singapore’s reputation and  economy if we fail to tackle such crimes.

Ms Indranee Rajah, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and 2nd Minister for Finance and National Development, speaking at the Dialogue session.

Minister emphasised that Singapore takes a zero-tolerance approach towards money laundering, and explained why a Whole-of-Nation approach is necessary to prevent, detect and enforce against money laundering and terrorism financing.

Combating Money Laundering

 A CEA representative then presented on the “Role of the Real Estate Agency Industry in Combating Money Laundering”.  This covered the following three key duties:


  • Conduct Customer Due Diligence Checks – Real Estate Salespersons/Estate Agents (RESs/EAs) are required to assess the risk of Money Laundering/Terrorism Financing (ML/TF) by carrying out Customer Due Diligence checks when they facilitate property transactions for clients.
  • Report Suspicious Transactions – If RESs/EAs suspect they are working with persons involved in ML/TF or suspect that a property transaction may be connected to ML/FT activities, RESs/EAs must file a Suspicious Transaction Report (STR) to the Suspicious Transaction Reporting Office (STRO).
  • Establish Risk Assessment, Internal Controls and Compliance Procedures – EAs must assess ML/TF risks based on past transactions, implement internal controls and compliance procedures to mitigate any such risks.  At the same time, EAs must continuously train and guide their RESs to help combat ML/TF as RESs are usually the first touchpoint with property consumers. 

The briefing also touched on possible examples of red flags of money laundering, which include a client (i) purchasing multiple properties within a short period of time, (ii) purchasing a property in the name of a nominee such as a relative, and (iii) purchasing a property using significant amount of cash. 

CEA also announced our new one-stop AML webpage containing key information to support RESs/EAs in performing their duty to prevent ML/TF.

Group Discussions and Dialogue with Minister Indranee

 After CEA’s presentation, participants discussed in groups about the challenges they faced in preventing and combating money laundering in their work. They also delved into specifics of their suggestions on how to address these challenges and enhance the processes to carry out their roles to counter the threat of money laundering. 

Selected groups later shared their suggestions and ideas. They spoke about the challenges of having to stop a transaction mid-way when a suspicion is detected, finding ways to improve background searches on customers for due diligence checks, as well as reducing the administration work required when performing due diligence checks and filing STRs. 

Minister, joined by CEA Executive Director Lim Chee Hwee, and Director of Investigation and Inspection Chan Kwok Cheong, held a panel dialogue with the participants. During the interactive dialogue, participants shared their feedback and perspectives, and clarified their queries with the panel.

Wrapping up the session, Minister reassured participants that as part of her work in chairing the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) to review Singapore’s anti-money laundering regime, all feedback and suggestions from this session would be taken seriously and reviewed. The IMC would also continue to engage more sectors and stakeholders to strengthen Singapore’s AML regime, and aims to share its findings by this year.

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Information accurate as at 22 Feb 2024

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