Written Answer by Minister for Law, Mr K Shanmugam, to Parliamentary Question on Number of Cases Where Foreigners Purchased Restricted Residential Properties Through Singaporeans
11 January 2022 Posted in Parliamentary speeches and responses
Mr Saktiandi Supaat (Member of Parliament for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC)
To ask the Minister for Law in light of the recent news report about foreigners purchasing restricted residential property illegally through Singaporeans (a) since 2017, what is the number of incidents of foreigners purchasing restricted residential property; (b) what types of property do they involve; and (c) whether these incidents have impacted property prices.
- The Government takes a strict approach towards ownership of landed residential property in Singapore by foreigners, including Permanent Residents, to ensure that they remain the primary preserve of Singapore Citizens.
- Foreign ownership of landed residential properties in Singapore is restricted under the Residential Property Act (RPA), and foreigners who wish to purchase such properties must seek the approval of the Minister for Law. The Act prohibits the creation of any trust for sale in respect of a residential property, in favour of any foreign person. The Act also prohibits any citizen from purchasing a residential property as a nominee of any foreign person, with the intention to hold it in trust for that foreign person. Any trust created and/or any contract between the citizen and foreign person in respect of such residential property shall be null and void, and any individual that commits such an offence faces a fine of up to $100,000, imprisonment of up to three years, or both.
- In 2017, it was discovered that a Singaporean, Ms Song Fanrong (“Song”) had bought three landed properties for three foreign individuals. The authorities investigated the matter and prosecuted Song, who pleaded guilty to one charge under the RPA of purchasing restricted residential property with the intention of holding it in trust for a foreigner, with two similar charges to be taken into consideration for sentencing. She will receive her sentencing later this month.
- Members will appreciate that such cases are not easy to detect, as the parties involved would have taken extensive steps to conceal evidence of such arrangements. Foreigners who turn to such illegal arrangements to acquire a landed property are taking a big risk. They could lose their entire investment, which are high value transactions, as the arrangement would be deemed null and void. And all parties involved would also face criminal charges and penalties under the law.
- Since 2017, other than this case, the authorities had also investigated another case in 2020 regarding a potential breach. However, there was insufficient evidence, and no further action was taken.
- The Member asked if such incidents have materially impacted the broader landed residential property market or private housing prices in general. Our assessment is that this is unlikely to be the case.
Last updated on 11 January 2022