Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Singapore haven for criminals?

According to this article, Singapore is trying to build itself up as more than just a regional financial hub. It seems that it is modeling itself after the world's bank, Switzerland, and is tightening banking privacy laws and offering tax incentives to attract the wealthy.

When I first read about it, the thought that crossed my mind was 'criminals'. As it is, Singapore is already in a constant argument with Indonesia over this issue. Many wealthy white-collar criminals run to Singapore. Singapore has, time and again, turned down the Indonesian government's request for these people to be extradited. Some say that as a result of this spat, Indonesia stopped exporting sand to Singapore.

According to the article, a bill introduced in the US in February, includes Singapore in a list of "probably locations for US tax evasion." right beside Hong Kong and Switzerland. However, unlike Europe rates in Asia are already generally low. So, the only reason that someone would want to 'offshore' their money is if they have a reason not to have it shown in their books. There really isn't any other real reason.

This is a very interesting development for our island neighbour. I know that it has to find different ways to continue to survive. This is one of the possible avenues that the government is considering. It has always modeled itself after small economic powers like Hong Kong and Switzerland. So, it shouldn't surprise anyone that it has taken the next step into becoming one. There are many rich people in South East Asia who need a place to hide their stash. Singapore could just be the answer to their needs.


Anonymous said...

The delay in signing extradition treaty may have to do with not wanting any Singapore high flyers, particularly, Temasake ones get send to Indonesia.

With so much investment in Indonesia, Ho Chin could potentially be extradited.

Shawn Tan said...

hmmm.. very interesting point of view.. however, i don't know anything about that though..