Singapore’s banking secrecy laws

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The FT reports that:

Seven former Citibank employees have been charged by the Singapore government with breaking client confidentiality laws in a case that reflects fierce recruitment competition among private banks and Singapore’s need to uphold tough bank secrecy rules.

Read the article and you’ll see that this is really a commercial dispute about people switching jobs.

Now, I have no problem with confidentiality. Within quite wide parameters confidentiality is important. To abuse it for commercial gain is unacceptable, for example.

But let’s also be clear: Singapore’s banking laws are not there for that purpose. They’re there to attract ‘hot’ money from around the world to its financial services centre. That’s money which its owners do not want have to account for, either as to ownership or with regard to income. Singapore must know as a result that its banking secrecy laws are being exploited by clients of its financial services centre to evade their responsibilities under other legal systems: evasion that is illegal.

At that point the right to confidentiality breaks down. Singapore’s law is abusive. It must knows that. The world should be acting to stop it. Now.