It can be challenging for new investors to navigate the waters and prevent being taken advantage of.
Before you invest your money in anything, educate yourself on how to spot investment scams. This is the best way to avoid them. Is the investment scheme one that offers high returns with little to no risk? Is the investment regulated? Are they pushing down on you to invest quickly?
Depending on your circumstances, you may be able to file a civil claim against the scammer to recover the money you have lost.
AUTHORITIES AND THEIR POWERS FOR REGULATION OF BUSINESS SCAMS IN SINGAPORE
In Singapore, the main authorities are:
- Commercial Affairs Department (CAD): The CAD is a branch of the Singapore police force and the principal white-collar crime enforcement agency in Singapore. It has several specialist departments and groups focusing on specialised areas such as commercial fraud and financial fraud.
- Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS): The MAS conducts investigations and audits to ensure compliance with provisions and regulations under statutes such as the Securities and Futures Act.It is also Singapore’s central bank and body responsible for the regulation and supervision of financial institutions in Singapore.
Investigations are conducted by the main authorities with investigative powers such as the CAD and MAS. Decisions on whether a case is subject to civil penalty action or criminal prosecution will be made when investigations are concluded.
- Prosecution powers
The Attorney General (AG) has the sole prosecution powers and has control, direction and discretion of prosecution of offences in Singapore. The AG discharges his responsibilities and duties through the Economic Crimes and Governance Division (EGD), which is responsible for all prosecutions in respect of financial crimes and corruption cases in Singapore.
- Powers of interview
A person can be compelled by an investigator to assist in investigations. A warrant of arrest can be issued to secure attendance under the Criminal Procedure Code (hereinafter referred as “CPC”).
- Powers of search/to compel disclosure
Under the CPC, the police can:
- Compel the attendance of witnesses for interview.
- Conduct searches without a warrant.
- Search computer records.
- Require the claimant and witnesses to put up a bond to attend court to give evidence against the accused.
- Powers to obtain evidence
The investigator can issue orders to persons (individuals or companies) to produce any document or exhibit relevant to the investigation (section 20, CPC) and to seize them if necessary (section 38, CPC). If not complied with, the investigator can conduct a search at any place or premises, or apply to the court for a search warrant to retrieve any documents or exhibits (section 24, CPC).
- Power of arrest
An arrest can be made without a warrant when the police reasonably suspect a man of committing a serious offence (section 17, CPC). Alternatively, a warrant can be made out to allow the police to make an arrest for a generally non-arrestable offence (section 16, CPC).
- Criminal investigation and charging process
The charge is the first stage in the prosecution of a criminal offence. This stage is where the accused is informed that the offence will be tried. Criminal cases can be heard in the High Court, or in the Subordinate Courts. For trials in the High Court, the accused must first attend a hearing before a magistrate court where the charge must be read. The matter will then be heard in the High Court where the accused will enter a plea and the prosecution and defence cases will be heard.
The court conducting a criminal trial has the power to order the production of any document or material that is considered necessary for conducting an investigation, inquiry or trial or other court proceeding (section 235(1), CPC).
The Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act (hereinafter referred as “CDTOSC”) contains further powers for investigating officers and the courts investigating serious criminal conduct (including fraud-related offences).
The court can order the production of certain material to an investigating officer. The court can also grant an officer entry to any premises, to obtain the material (sections 30 and 31, CDTOSC) (applicable to financial institutions). Financial institutions that comply with such an order must not be treated as being in breach of any restriction on the disclosure of information or material imposed by law, contract or rules of professional conduct (section 31(4), CDTOSC). The court can also order a warrant allowing the entry and search of premises (section 34, CDTOSC).
The court, on any conviction of certain serious offences, can make a confiscation order confiscating relevant assets (section 5, CDTOSC).
The court can make a restraint order to prohibit any person from dealing with any realisable property, subject to certain conditions and exceptions (section 16, CDTOSC) or a charging order on interests in realisable property (section 17, CDTOSC).
Persons who know or have reasonable grounds to suspect that any property represents or was used or is intended to be used in connection with serious criminal conduct must report that knowledge or suspicion to the relevant authorities (section 39, CDTOSC).
The investigatory powers under the CDTOSC apply to serious criminal conduct in Singapore and overseas (section 2, CDTOSC). The authorities can communicate information to foreign authorities, subject to certain conditions (section 41, CDTOSC).
- Court orders or injunctions
- Confiscation orders (sections 4(1) and 5(1), CDTOSC): In the event where an accused is convicted of one or more drug dealing and/or serious offences and on application of the Public Prosecutor, the court can make confiscation order against the accused if the court is satisfied that such benefits have been so derived.
- Restraint orders (section 16, CDTOSC): Regardless of whether an accused is convicted, on application of the Public Prosecutor, the High Court can make a restraint order to prevent a person from dealing with any realisable property held by an accused charged with a drug dealing offence or a serious offence. A restraint order may apply to all realisable property held by a specified person, whether the property is described in the order or not.
- Charging orders in respect of land, securities and so on (section 17, CDTOSC): On application of the Public Prosecutor, the High Court may make a charging order on realisable property for the purposes of securing payment to the government.
 Chapter 65A,Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act, 1992.
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