Govt seeks more teeth to fight organised crime

Proposed laws to clamp down on illicit activities of organised crime groups such as drug trafficking, money laundering and loansharking were introduced in Parliament today (July 13). Aimed at preventing organised crime from establishing a foothold here, the Organised Crime Bill seeks to confer wide-ranging powers on authorities to take to task those involved in such crimes at all levels, even without a conviction.

Under the Bill, the court would be empowered to issue orders - called Organised Crime Prevention Orders - to constrain criminal activities. For example, it could disqualify involved individuals from acting as a director of a company, require them to submit financial reports and restrict their travel and work arrangements.

Companies, meanwhile, could face prohibitions on their business dealings, provision of goods and services and employment. And these orders can be imposed on individuals who are not criminally convicted through civil proceedings.

To make such orders, the High Court must be satisfied that a person has been involved in an offence associated with an organised crime group, and has grounds to believe that the order would protect the public.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said today that organised crime poses a serious threat to safety and security, and the proposed laws would strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to deal with them.
"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 organised crime groups from establishing a foothold here," the Ministry said.

Under the Bill, an organised crime group refers to a party of three or more individuals that engages in criminal activities for financial or material gains.
Apart from the court orders, the Bill also proposes investigative powers for law enforcement agencies to investigate and obtain information from the Comptroller of Income Tax and the Comptroller of Goods and Services Tax. These agencies can also apply to the High Court to examine individuals who can provide information of value to civil proceedings.

An individual's benefits from any organised crime activity can be confiscated even if he or she is not criminally convicted, as long as the prosecution is able to prove, on a balance of probabilities, that the person has carried out organised crime activity.
To prevent and cripple the activities of organised crime groups and those involved in it, the Bill seeks to criminalise being a member of such parties, and recruiting members and expending property to support these groups.

Proposed laws to clamp down on illicit activities of organised crime groups such as drug trafficking, money laundering and loansharking were introduced in Parliament today (July 13). Aimed at preventing organised crime from establishing a foothold here, the Organised Crime Bill seeks to confer wide-ranging powers on authorities to take to task those involved in such crimes at all levels, even without a conviction.

Under the Bill, the court would be empowered to issue orders - called Organised Crime Prevention Orders - to constrain criminal activities. For example, it could disqualify involved individuals from acting as a director of a company, require them to submit financial reports and restrict their travel and work arrangements.

Companies, meanwhile, could face prohibitions on their business dealings, provision of goods and services and employment. And these orders can be imposed on individuals who are not criminally convicted through civil proceedings.

To make such orders, the High Court must be satisfied that a person has been involved in an offence associated with an organised crime group, and has grounds to believe that the order would protect the public.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said today that organised crime poses a serious threat to safety and security, and the proposed laws would strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to deal with them.
"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 organised crime groups from establishing a foothold here," the Ministry said.

Under the Bill, an organised crime group refers to a party of three or more individuals that engages in criminal activities for financial or material gains.
Apart from the court orders, the Bill also proposes investigative powers for law enforcement agencies to investigate and obtain information from the Comptroller of Income Tax and the Comptroller of Goods and Services Tax. These agencies can also apply to the High Court to examine individuals who can provide information of value to civil proceedings.

An individual's benefits from any organised crime activity can be confiscated even if he or she is not criminally convicted, as long as the prosecution is able to prove, on a balance of probabilities, that the person has carried out organised crime activity.
To prevent and cripple the activities of organised crime groups and those involved in it, the Bill seeks to criminalise being a member of such parties, and recruiting members and expending property to support these groups.

Those convicted of serious crimes committed as part of an organised crime syndicate will be subject to stiffer penalties. For instance, money mules could be jailed up to seven years or fined S$500,000, or punished with both, under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act. If the proposed laws are passed, those who committed the same offence as part of an organised crime group face up to 12 years in jail or a S$1,000,000 fine, or both.

To tackle the transnational nature of organised crime, the proposed laws will cover both individuals here and overseas who are involved in organised crime activities that result in harm in Singapore. In developing the Bill, the MHA said it studied the laws and practices in other jurisdictions, such as the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada, Hong Kong, Australia and the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime. The Ministry also consulted the judiciary and legal fraternity here.
In recent months, the transnational scale of several offences have been highlighted and prosecutors have repeatedly called for stiffer penalties, as syndicate leaders based outside Singapore believe they can escape the law.

Earlier this month, the Malaysian mastermind of a prolific car-smuggling syndicate that had disposed of stolen vehicles worth more than S$7 million was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years' jail. In April, a loanshark who was part of a cross-border syndicate and operated from Zhuhai in China was sentenced to four years' jail and fined S$600,000.

HOW OTHER JURISDICTIONS TACKLE ORGANISED CRIME

Canada
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police targets specific criminal groups, such as outlaw motorcycle gangs and syndicates in child trafficking, counterfeit credit cards and telemarketing. It is an offence to impede the administration of justice through intimidation and targeting those who recruit others to join an organised crime group.

New Zealand
Police can obtain court orders to freeze or forfeit money or property derived from crime, including indirect benefits, such as a car purchased using money obtained through fraud. Assets can be frozen even when no one has been convicted or charged with a crime if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the property is tainted or that the suspect has unlawfully benefited from the criminal activities.

United Kingdom
Participation in activities of an organised crime group - comprising three or more persons acting together to further criminal activities - is illegal, with a penalty of between five to seven years' imprisonment. The courts are also empowered to freeze assets even if a decision to charge a suspect is not made within a reasonable time.
The United Nations Convention against Transnational Crime, adopted by the General Assembly in December 2000, targets specific areas of organised crime, including trafficking in persons, migrant smuggling and illicit manufacturing and trafficking of firearms.

Source: Today

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