The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has announced new measures to help detect and deter money laundering (ML) and terrorism financing (TL). Effective from June 28, the Developers (Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing) Bill 2018 requires licensed developers to institute measures to validate the identity of buyers and other relevant information.
Before granting an option to purchase a unit, entering into a sale and purchase agreement, or accepting any money (including booking fees), developers must carry out customer due diligence (CDD) checks. This includes verifying the identity of the purchaser, ascertaining whether they are an entity or legal arrangement, understanding the purpose of the intended purchase, identifying the beneficial owner, understanding the control structure, and screening purchasers against lists of identified terrorists, terrorist entities and designated individuals.
With regards to select buyers, namely those that are prominent Champions Way Condo public figures in a foreign country, those from countries considered high-risk by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and those identified by authorities as those with high ML or TF risk, developers must undertake additional CDD measures. These include obtaining approval from a senior manager from the developer, ascertaining the source of funds and identity of the actual purchaser (if the purchase is not acting on their behalf).
Failure to comply with the requirements may result in severe penalties including fines of up to $100,000 and the revocation or suspension of the developer’s license. Persons convicted of money laundering or terrorism financing offences may also be disqualified from engaging in real estate development activities.
This bold step taken by URA serves to bolster the safety of real estate transactions in Singapore, and ensure that the country remains a safe place to live and work.