MAS fines Vistra Trust $1.1 million for failures in anti-money laundering controls

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SINGAPORE – The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has slapped a composition penalty of $1.1 million on a financial services firm for failing to comply with requirements on anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT).

An inspection by MAS from April to June 2019 found that Vistra Trust (Singapore), had committed serious breaches of AML/CFT requirements for trust companies, placing it at a higher risk of being used as a conduit for illicit activities, the regulator said on Thursday (Jan 20).

The firm’s business activities include the creation of trusts and provision of trustee services. Trusts enable third parties, or trustees, to hold assets for the benefit of beneficiaries.

“The failures were particularly in relation to higher risk trust relevant parties, such as the settlor, the beneficiary, the trustee and any person who has power over the disposition of a trust property,” MAS said.

It added that the firm did not implement adequate procedures to determine if the relevant parties presented a higher risk for money laundering or terrorism financing.

This resulted in the firm failing to identify certain higher risk accounts or subjecting these accounts to enhanced customer due diligence measures, MAS said.

The authority has directed the company to appoint an independent party to see if its measures to remedy the situation are adequate and effective. The party has to report its findings back to MAS.

“The company has paid the penalty and taken remedial actions to address the risk management deficiencies that led to the breaches,” MAS added.

Ms Loo Siew Yee, MAS assistant managing director for policy, payments and financial crime, said: “Financial institutions play a critical role in guarding against the risk of illicit financing activities in Singapore.

“A specific area of risk relates to trust structures being abused by criminals to conceal illicit proceeds.”

She added that MAS will take strong actions against any financial institution that fails to meet the regulatory standards for anti-money laundering.

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