The material on this site is for financial institutions, professional investors and their professional advisers. It is for information only. Please read our Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy and Cookies before using this site. Please see our Subscription Terms and Conditions.

All material subject to strictly enforced copyright laws. © 2022 Euromoney, a part of the Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC.

Singaporean private banking: The moral maze of privacy

Singapore has made great strides as a private banking centre, attracting almost every bank that matters to set up shop there to service the region’s rich. But recent developments in Burma (Myanmar) suggest that the city state’s financial success has come with a string attached to it: increasing scrutiny of its morality.

This happens to all private banking centres at some stage: if you guarantee privacy to your customers, it’s fair to assume that some unsavoury characters are going to try to take advantage of that privacy. Switzerland has faced questions about the fine line between client confidentiality and ethical probity since World War II at least. And now the clashes between Burma’s ruling junta and protesters have put Singapore in the spotlight for the same reason.

Singapore is believed to be home to bank accounts for many key figures in Burma’s ruling regime. In fact, Singapore in general has many ties to the country. Temasek, the investment arm of the Singapore state, and government-linked companies are believed to have between $2 billion and $3 billion invested in the country; junta leader Than Shew comes to use Singapore’s hospitals; and Singapore is understood to house many shell companies for Burmese individuals. Lacking democracy in any functional sense, Singapore’s leaders don’t have to worry too much about the weight of public opinion (and there has been little protest locally anyway), but one thing that it does worry about is keeping a reputation for being a scrupulously clean financial centre.

You have reached premium content. Please log in to continue reading.

Read beyond the headlines with Euromoney

For over 50 years, our readers have looked to Euromoney to stay informed about the issues that matter in the international banking and financial markets. Find out more about our different levels of access below.


Unlimited access to and

Expert comment, long reads and in-depth analysis interviews with senior finance professionals

Access the results of our market-leading annual surveys across core financial services

Access the results of our annual awards, including the world-renowned Awards for Excellence

Your print copy of Euromoney magazine delivered monthly

£73.75 per month

Billed Annually


Unlimited access to and, including our top stories, long reads, expert analysis, and the results of our annual surveys and awards

Sign up to any of our newsletters, curated by our editors


Already a user?

We use cookies to provide a personalized site experience.
By continuing to use & browse the site you agree to our Privacy Policy.
I agree