Singapore Says Its Banks Don’t Hold ‘Significant Funds’ From Myanmar

By The Irrawaddy 24 February 2021

YANGON—The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said regular surveillance of the city state’s banking system had not turned up “significant funds” from Myanmar companies or individuals, after Myanmar people called for a freeze on their country’s foreign reserves, which recently fell under the control of the military regime.

The statement came after Justice for Myanmar (JFM) reported that the military took control of approximately US$5.7 billion (8.03 trillion kyats) in foreign currency reserves and gained access to the global financial system after its takeover of the country. JFM said it had received credible intelligence that some of those funds are deposited with commercial banks in Singapore, including DBS, OCBC and UOB.

Following the report, thousands of social media users on Facebook and Twitter demanded Singapore freeze the reserves, saying the generals should be prevented from gaining access to the country’s foreign assets and using the international banking system to maintain their unlawful actions.

The MAS said it expected financial institutions in Singapore “to remain vigilant to any transactions that could pose risks to the institution, including dealings with companies and individuals subject to financial sanctions by foreign jurisdictions.”

In the statement, the MAS also said it expected financial institutions in Singapore to comply with its directives implementing UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, and to guard against fund flows that could be related to illicit activities.

It closely supervises financial institutions to check that processes are in place for compliance and takes appropriate enforcement actions where there are serious violations, the agency added.

JFM urged countries to freeze all of Myanmar’s assets, saying the reserves could be used to sustain military rule in Myanmar. It also urged countries to suspend all business with military-controlled banks in Myanmar.

In early February, in response to the military coup, the US government froze $1 billion in Myanmar government funds in the US, to stop the military regime from accessing them.

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