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Police to take action against all involved in fake news article relating to 1MDB: Shanmugam

SINGAPORE'S Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam on Friday said the allegations made in an online article against Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and the government were "absurd", and that the police will take action against all involved.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) earlier on Friday said it has filed a police report against the author of a Nov 5 States Times Review article, which it said made statements that were false and malicious, and impugned its integrity as a financial regulator.

The "baseless and defamatory" article alleged that Malaysia had signed several unfair agreements with Singapore, in exchange for Singapore banks' assistance in laundering 1Malaysia Development Berhad's (1MDB) funds, said MAS.

Speaking to reporters at the Treasury building about the matter, Mr Shanmugam said: "When you make allegations of corruption, money laundering against the Prime Minister, Government of Singapore that we are complicit in this and so on, we'll take this very seriously."

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He added that the police will take action against all involved based on investigations and advice from the Attorney-General's Chambers.

Malaysian website The Coverage published a similar article on Thursday linking PM Lee to the 1MDB scandal. The source for the article was listed as "Straights Review", and included a link to the Nov 5 article on the States Times Review website.

Mr Shanmugam said the article suggested Singapore was reluctant to investigate the 1MDB scandal - which was untrue.

He noted that the Republic was the first jurisdiction to do so, against the financial institutions and individuals involved in 1MDB.

The two-year investigation by MAS of both foreign and local banks was the most extensive supervisory review it has ever taken, he said, adding that MAS has shut down two banks and imposed fines of around S$29.1 million on eight other banks, among other actions.

Mr Shanmugam also noted that Singapore is the first, and only country to date of at least 10 jurisdictions involved, to secure convictions of individuals who facilitated the money laundering.

Investigations are continuing into other suspects in Singapore, he added.

Asked if there was any likelihood of a foreign agency involved in the fake news put out, Mr Shanmugam said any such suggestion "would be speculative".

The Sarawak Report had earlier distanced itself from the online article which had cited it, and Singapore's High Commission in Malaysia had described that same article on the website of The Coverage as fake news and libellous a day earlier.

THE STRAITS TIMES