Singapore Passes Law to Tighten Rules for VASPs

  • The Financial Services and Markets Bill requires VASPs doing business outside Singapore to be licensed and subject to AML and CFT requirements.
  • The Monetary Authority of Singapore will also receive additional power when issuing prohibition orders against industry figures who are unfit to perform “key roles, activities and functions”.
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Landscape of Singapore’s business buildings around Marina bay.
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The government of Singapore has passed a law that gives the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) additional power over the crypto-related businesses, Bloomberg reported on 5 April.

The new legislation, titled “Financial Services and Markets Bill“, will require virtual asset service providers (VASPs) — that are based in the city but provide services outside of Singapore — to be licensed with the MAS. The new law was designed to place such entities under Singapore’s anti-money laundering (AML) and combating the finance of terrorism (CFT) requirements. MAS board member Alvin Tan said during the second reading of the bill on Monday:

“We could be exposed to reputational risks brought by DT service providers created in Singapore, and which provide services relating to virtual assets such as Bitcoin outside Singapore. The FSM Bill seeks to mitigate such risks by licensing these players and imposing AML/CFT requirements on them. The Bill also enhances MAS’ powers to ensure that FIs bolster the security and resilience of digital services.”

Singapore’s new law will also allow the MAS to conduct inspections of VASPs connected to AML/CFT compliance, as well as assist foreign financial regulators and enforcement agencies. In addition, the MAS will now have greater authority when issuing prohibition orders against industry figures who are deemed unfit to “perform key roles, activities and functions”. The bill also imposes a higher maximum penalty of 1 million SGD — around $740,000 — on VASPs that experience cyberattacks or service disruptions.

Back in January, Singapore’s MAS issued new guidelines that effectively banned crypto firms from advertising their business in public areas. Several companies, such as Huobi and Binance, have decided to withdraw their MAS applications and wind down their services in the area.

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