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Parliament: Singapore takes tougher stance against organised crime

The Organised Crime Bill was introduced for First Reading in the Singapore Parliament on Monday.

The Organised Crime Bill was introduced for First Reading in the Singapore Parliament on Monday.

The Bill strengthens the ability of law enforcement agencies (LEAs), such as the Singapore Police Force and Central Narcotics Bureau, to prevent and disrupt activities of organised criminal groups (OCGs). It will allow the authorities to deter and tackle organised crime at all levels - from the highest echelons of OCGs who mastermind or finance the activities, to members of OCGs who carry out these criminal activities.

The Bill will introduce enhanced powers for LEAs to investigate and obtain information from the Comptroller of Income Tax and the Comptroller of Goods and Services Tax. LEAs can also apply to the High Court for examination orders against persons who can provide information of value to civil proceedings relating to Organised Crime Preventive Orders, Financial Reporting Orders or Civil Confiscation.

The Bill will criminalise involvement in organised crime activities, provide for the Courts to issue Preventive Orders to constrain the activities of OCGs by:

a) Disqualification Orders, which prohibit individuals involved in organised crime activities from acting as a director of a company;

b) Financial Reporting Orders, which require individuals involved in organised crime activities to submit financial reports; and

c) Organised Crime Preventive Orders, which place restrictions on the activities of an individual or organisation involved in organised crime activities.

It also introduces a civil confiscation regime that targets the benefits derived from organised crime.

"While the situation in Singapore is under control, the experiences of other countries have demonstrated the need to act pre-emptively and decisively to prevent OCGs from establishing a foothold here," the Ministry of Home Affairs said.

The Bill will have extra-territorial coverage to tackle the transnational nature of organised crime, it added.

"In summary, the Bill will criminalise and punish persons who carry out activities in support of OCGs. It will allow LEAs to tackle organised crime threats decisively by strengthening their powers to detect and investigate into OCGs, curtail and dismantle these criminal groups and deprive them of their ill-gotten gains," the ministry said.

In developing this Bill, the Ministry of Home Affairs studied the laws and practices of other jurisdictions, such as the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UN Convention on Transnational Organised Crime. MHA also held consultations with the judiciary and legal fraternity on the key features of the Bill.