Singapore to stop issuing S$10,000 banknote to prevent money laundering

SINGAPORE, July 2 (Reuters) - Singapore is to stop issuing S$10,000 ($8,000) notes, one of the world’s most valuable banknotes, as it tries to tighten its anti-money laundering controls.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said on Wednesday that given the “risks associated with large value cash transactions and high-value notes”, it will stop producing the S$10,000, though those already in circulation will remain legal tender indefinitely.

High value notes are popular with organised criminals as they are a lighter, more efficient way of carrying large amounts of cash.

In 2010, Britain’s Serious Organised Crime Agency estimated that 90 percent of 500 euro ($680) banknotes sold from exchange bureaus in the country were in the hands of organised criminals.

Singapore is tightening its scrutiny of cash-intensive sectors such as casinos and money remittance agents to try and ensure they are not used to launder the proceeds of crime.

The wealthy island-nation opened two multi-billion dollar gaming resorts in 2010 that attract thousands of high-rolling gamblers from overseas, an industry that a government report warned last year could be vulnerable to money laundering.

Ong Chong Tee, a deputy managing director of MAS, said he felt ending production of the $10,000 note was unlikely to cause much inconvenience.

“The development of more advanced and secured electronic payment systems has reduced the need for large value cash-based transactions,” he said in a speech at a financial crime seminar.

Singapore will however continue to have some high-value paper, with the central bank still issuing S$1,000 notes. By comparison, the highest-value denomination in the United States is $100.

($1 = 1.2454 Singapore Dollars)

$1 = 0.7345 Euros Reporting by Rachel Armstrong; Editing by Christopher Cushing