New measures aimed at safeguarding the conveyancing of money will be implemented starting 1 August 2011.
These measures will protect clients’ money and prevent lawyers from absconding with money from property transactions.
Under the new measures, lawyers will no longer be allowed to receive and hold conveyancing money in their clients’ accounts. Instead, the money must be held in a conveyancing account in banks appointed by the Ministry of Law. Withdrawal or pay-out of such money will require two-party authorisation.
Violation of the rule will result in a fine of up to S$50,000, imprisonment of up to three months, or both.
According to an AsiaOne report, the banks authorised to hold conveyancing accounts include Overseas-Chinese Banking Corp Ltd, Bank of China Ltd, The Bank of East Asia, United Overseas Bank and DBS Bank Ltd.
In addition, the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) has set up a new electronic Payment Instruction (ePI) service to provide a better and more secure environment for lawyers to initiate pay-out instructions and counter-sign digitally, as well as for the appointed banks and SLA to securely process and retrieve instructions.