ICA does not collect information on the citizenship’s applicants wealth or net worth, said K Shanmugam

ICA does not collect information on the citizenship’s applicants wealth or net worth, said K Shanmugam

SINGAPORE — The Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) does not collect information on the wealth or net worth of Singapore Citizenship applicants, said K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law.

K Shanmugam was responding to Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Leong Mun Wai’s Parliamentary question.

Mr Leong asked the Minister for Home Affairs for each year since 2000:

(a) what is the number of ultra-high net worth individuals and their families, with a net worth of at least USD 50 million, who have been granted Singapore citizenship;

(b) which, how many of them obtained Singapore citizenship after having set up a family office in Singapore; and

(c) how many obtained Singapore citizenship through other avenues.

Mr Leong’s questions stem from recent media reports that a researcher had estimated that 3,500 high-net-worth individuals were due to get Singapore Citizenship in 2023.

Mr Shanmugam said MHA does not know how the researcher arrived at these figures, and the grant of Singapore Citizenship for the rest of 2023 has not been decided as yet.

The researcher Mr Shanmugam was referring is Andrew Amoils, Head of Research at New World Wealth who is affiliated with London-based investment migration consultancy Henly & Partners.

MHA issued a statement on 25 April, stating that the reports were highly “misleading” and had “no credible basis”.

Mr Shanmugam added that after the MHA issued the statement, the researcher who had made the projections wrote to them to clarify that he had been misquoted by the media.

“He said, and I quote, “This was simply untrue and not at all what was said in the interview.””

“He said he had “never said anything about citizenship”. He said that he did not track citizenship in his research, and that his projection referred to high-net-worth individuals moving to Singapore in general.”

“Most of them may be expatriates and work transfers i.e. not necessarily persons who applied for and became citizens.”

“Singapore citizenship application assessed on a broad range of factors”

Mr Shanmugam reiterated that each Singapore citizenship application is assessed on a broad range of factors.

“Which include the ability to contribute to Singapore, the number of jobs that the applicant or his business may be able to create in Singapore, the special skills and/or education that the applicant may possess, the applicant’s family ties to Singaporeans, the ability to integrate, and the commitment to sink roots in Singapore.”

“Different criteria may apply to different applicants, depending on their background and circumstances – for example an applicant applying as a spouse of a Singapore citizen will be considered differently from someone applying on the basis of having stayed in Singapore for a period of time, and contributed to employment creation in Singapore.”

Leader of the Opposition queries MHA on outreach to publication over “serious misquotation”

The Leader of the Opposition, Pritam Singh, raised a follow-up question to the Minister, with regard to the researcher’s remark about being misquoted by the media.

Mr Singh asked whether MHA had reached out to the publication to inquire about why such a serious misquotation had occurred, given the sensitivity of the subject matter.

In response, Minister Shanmugam stated that he did not keep track of whether his ministry had reached out to the media to find out what had happened.

He went on to explain that what was factual was that MHA had issued a statement categorically rebutting the report and that the researcher who was supposedly quoted had written to them to clarify that he had never mentioned citizenship in his research.

Influx of ultra-wealthy families from overseas

As the Singapore government has granted an average of 22,100 new citizenships over the past five years, it is unclear whether the 3,500 HNWIs with assets worth at least one million dollars will be among the applicants considered for citizenship this year.

Nonetheless, the researcher, Andrew Amoils may have offered a more conservative estimate regarding the number of HNWIs interested in moving to Singapore.

Henley & Partners also published the “2022 Global Citizenship Report,” revealing that last year, Singapore added 2,800 HNWIs, reaching a total of 241,000, and ranked fifth among the top 20 cities with the most millionaires in the world.

Multiple reports from international news agencies have highlighted the influx of ultra-wealthy families from overseas, particularly from China, to Singapore.

There are also several indicators that suggest the impact of the influx of these HNWIs on the local economy, such as the rising demand and property values.

For examples, the price of golf memberships for expats at the exclusive Sentosa Golf Club surged last year to S$840,000 as more Chinese join.

Singapore’s real estate market has defied a global slump as newcomers snap up luxury condos, driving prices higher for 12 straight quarters.

Bloomberg reported that although family office assets at Singapore’s banks are increasing, little of that cash is being invested in local capital markets, which would create the jobs necessary to generate the fees needed to sustain the financial sector.

Amoils has stated that Singapore is emerging as Asia’s top wealth management centre, which should assist in “attracting many more affluent individuals to relocate there in future.”

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