White-collar crimes in Singapore to be aware of

White-collar crimes in Singapore to be aware of
13 Jan 2021

White-collar crimes in Singapore to be aware of

In recent times, Singapore’s authorities have stepped up their efforts to reduce white-collar crimes by increasing the scale of investigations and the number of funds seized. Although there is no singular definition of white collar crimes, they typically take place in a corporate context where people try to gain an illegal economic or business advantage.

From money laundering to bribery and forgery, these types of offences are punishable by Singapore’s law enforcement agencies under a range of statutes, including the Companies Act, Betting Act, Financial Advisers Act and Prevention of Corruption Act, among many others. In handing down a sentence, Singapore’s judicial system takes a progressive approach to sentencing. This means the sanctions usually reflect the broader public interest and consider the potentially widespread impact of white collar crimes on financial market trust.

With those found guilty punished with either fines or imprisonment, employing a white collar crime lawyer in Singapore is the best way to navigate these complicated legal matters.

Examples of white-collar crimes

Although there are many types of white-collar crimes, three of the most common are money laundering, embezzlement and forgery. Here, we explore the circumstances surrounding these types of crimes in Singapore.

Money laundering

Money laundering is where income is obtained via criminal or illegitimate means, but with the appearance of coming from a legal source. In Singapore, money laundering crimes are prosecuted under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act.

Criminals often attempt to launder money acquired from drug trafficking and other illegal conduct with the purchase of various types of property. By converting cash into different kinds of property and attempting to shift it outside of Singapore, criminals can convert so-called ‘dirty’ money into clean. These kinds of offences are charged under sections 46(1) and 47(1) of the act.

It is also an offence to benefit from someone else’s money laundering scheme. By gaining an advantage from property that was knowingly earned from drug trafficking or other criminal conduct, offenders can be charged under Sections 46(3) and 47(3). Likewise, abetment of money laundering is a serious charge under Sections 46 (2) and 47 (2).

Finally, people are often charged with money laundering after entering into an agreement to assist drug traffickers or other serious criminal offenders. Falling under sections 43(1) and 44(1), this could involve controlling, securing or investing in proceeds derived from criminal activities.


Embezzlement is another common white collar crime. This is defined as a theft that utilises property one does not own to gain an illegal benefit. For example, an employee who uses company property to run a personal project may have committed embezzlement. Under Section 405 of the Penal Code, someone who commits embezzlement is liable for Criminal Breach of Trust according to the following three elements:

  • The property was entrusted to fulfil requirements based on an express or implied contractual term or law.
  • The entrusted property was misappropriated or converted for personal use.
  • The offender acted with the dishonest intention of wrongful gain or intentionally causing wrongful loss to someone else.


Forgery is where someone creates or changes a document to suit their fraudulent needs. Pursuant to Section 462 of the Penal Code, a person charged with forgery must have created this false document with underhanded intentions, ranging from causing public damage, obtaining property deceptively, supporting a false claim or allowing fraud to occur.

For expert assistance regarding white collar crimes, consult our white collar crime lawyers in Singapore


For more information, please contact our Business Development Manager, Ricky Soetikno, at [email protected].

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