From next year, bankers who help clients evade tax risk ending up in court on money laundering charges.
The new rules are part of “efforts to protect the integrity and reputation of Singapore as a trusted international financial center,” the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the central bank and financial regulator, said last week.
Thomas Eigenthaler, chairman of the German Tax Union, welcomed an upgrade to Germany and Singapore’s “rudimentary, fragmentary” tax agreement, but said “the decisive thing will be how it is actually implemented.”
Palan said trying to assess the city-state’s credentials is tricky, partly due to difficulties getting detailed information about its offshore finance sector.
“We cannot get any access to Singapore and that for us does raise flags,” he said. “It’s easier to do research on Jersey or Switzerland, but in Singapore it’s almost impossible.”
As more tax-paying millionaires want to get exposure to Asian growth, they say, Singapore must do all it can to show it will not tolerate black money.
“Singapore stands to gain a lot from proactively embracing the move towards global tax transparency,” said Dawn Quek, a senior associate at law firm Baker & McKenzie, Wong & Leow.