Authorities say there is no evidence of Cook Islands complicity in money-laundering law breaches by Asiaciti Trust in Singapore.
A family-owned trust company with a branch operating in the Cook Islands has been fined NZ$1.19 million for breaching anti-money laundering requirements in Singapore.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore fined Asiaciti Trust Singapore Private Limited for failing to implement adequate checks against money laundering.
But the local authority overseeing the Cook Islands offshore finance industry says they aren’t aware of any information that any of the above breaches relate to their office here in Rarotonga.
Cheryl McCarthy, acting head of Cook Islands Financial Intelligence Unit, said based on their and Financial Supervisory Commission’s compliance activities over the last few years, “we are satisfied with the levels of compliance by Asiaciti” with the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism laws.
As with all financial institutions here in the Cook Islands, McCarthy said the compliance continued to be enhanced each year. “Standards are frequently changed and added to, at an international level.”
Asiaciti Trust Cook Islands said: "Asiaciti Trust is committed to the highest compliance standards and meeting the regulatory requirements in the Cook Islands and all jurisdictions in which we operate. We have resolved a matter with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (“MAS”) that specifically relates to our Singapore office failing to meet the MAS’s Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (“AML/CFT”) controls and procedures requirements in the period prior to early 2018.
"These isolated AML/CFT control and procedural issues have been fully addressed, and since 2018, the Singapore office’s new management team has enhanced internal compliance and governance systems to fully meet the requirements. Any speculation that this matter is related to anything beyond these isolated issues is inaccurate and false."- Asiaciti Trust Cook Islands added.
In a statement, the Monetary Authority of Singapore said the Asiaciti Trust Singapore committed “serious breaches” of its Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism requirements for trust companies between 2007 and 2018.
The Authority said the company did not implement adequate policies and procedures on the laws against money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
It also failed to subject its Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism controls to independent audits.
These failings hindered Asiaciti Trust Singapore’s ability to detect and mitigate money laundering and terrorism financing risks associated with its higher-risk customers, the Authority added.
Loo Siew Yee of Monetary Authority of Singapore said: “Financial institutions must play their part in detecting and disrupting attempts to abuse our financial system for illicit purposes.”
Yee said trust companies are required to implement robust anti laundering controls, with policies and processes that effectively mitigate risks from vehicles or trust structures of customers
The Authority confirmed Asiaciti Trust Singapore paid the penalty in full and taken remedial actions to address the risk management deficiencies that led to the breaches.
Asiaciti Trust, an international trust and corporate services provider, which was established 1978, has operations in Singapore, Hong Kong, the Cook Islands, Dubai, Nevis, New Zealand, Panama and Samoa.