Mr Dennis Tan Lip Fong asked the Minister for Home Affairs whether persons whose bank accounts are frozen as a result of being recipients of monies from alleged suspects of scamming offences for reasons, such as payment of goods and services or other bona fide transactions, may be allowed access to their bank accounts for reasonable living expenses or existing legitimate GIRO payment obligations.
Mr K Shanmugam: When the Police receive information that a bank account has received suspected criminal proceeds, they work with the relevant bank to freeze the account to prevent the outflow of the money. Once frozen, the Police will need to obtain a Court order before access to the bank account can be restored to the owner. The account needs to be frozen because there are usually competing claims on the money in the account. These competing claims need to be resolved by the Courts before the money is released to their rightful owners. Allowing the account owners to withdraw money freely will complicate subsequent claims on the money if it is proven that the bank account had, indeed, received proceeds from crimes.
Persons whose bank accounts are frozen as a result of being recipients of suspected criminal proceeds can make an application to the Courts to withdraw money for reasonable living or legitimate expenses. Section 35(8) of the Criminal Procedure Code allows the account holder to submit an application to the Courts to access their funds for the payment of basic expenses, including any payment for food stuff, rent, the discharge of a mortgage, medicine, medical treatment, taxes, insurance premiums and public utility charges, amongst others.
Ministry of Home Affairs
27 July 2021