S'pore will step up use of technology, data analytics to fight transnational crime and money laundering: DPM Teo

Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean identified money laundering and terrorism financing as the two key risks facing all financial centres, including Singapore.
Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean identified money laundering and terrorism financing as the two key risks facing all financial centres, including Singapore. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - Singapore will increasingly harness technology and data analytics to tackle transnational crime and money laundering, Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean said on Thursday (Sept 28).

The authorities here will also continue to work closely with professionals and institutions in the private sector to be vigilant against individuals who try to finance terrorism-related activities, he said.

Mr Teo was speaking at the launch of a post-graduate programme on financial forensics by the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants. It is the first financial forensic accountancy qualification offered by a professional body in South-east Asia, said the institute.

The programme will help accounting firms provide fraud and forensic accounting services, and fortify companies and businesses against money laundering and financing of terrorism-related activities, said the DPM.

Mr Teo identified money laundering and terrorism financing as the two key risks facing all financial centres, including Singapore.

He noted that the inter-governmental Financial Action Task Force has recognised that Singapore has a strong legal and institutional framework to combat money laundering.

But, he said, money laundering risks have grown in complexity and scale in recent years. Singapore has detected and dealt with a number of large-scale money laundering cases, but criminals will continue to look for new ways to mask the beneficial owners and illicit source of their funds, he said.

With criminal groups exploiting technology to commit crimes, the authorities here "will increasingly use technology and data analytics to detect and pursue transnational crime and money laundering, strengthen our regulatory framework enforcement approach, and collaborate more closely with our international counterparts", said the DPM.

For instance, Singapore strengthened the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act in June to address the increasing scale, complexity and transnational nature of cybercrime, said Mr Teo. It is now an offence to deal in hacked personal information for illegitimate purposes, or to obtain hacking tools with the intention to use these to commit a computer offence.

Given the transnational nature of cybercrime, Singapore has also actively cooperated with other countries to fight such crime, Mr Teo said. He cited a joint operation with Interpol, targeting cybercrime across the Asean region, using the Digital Crime Centre at the Interpol Global Complex for Innovation based in Singapore.

This enabled investigators to identify and shut down nearly 9,000 command-and-control servers worldwide found to be spreading malware, and hundreds of compromised websites, which included government portals, said Mr Teo.

On Singapore's efforts against terrorism financing, the DPM said the authorities have detected and taken early action against individuals for their involvement in terrorism-related activities, including financing terrorism. Since 2015, 11 Singaporeans have been detained and six were issued with restriction orders, more than in the previous seven years.

Singapore has also deported foreigners working here found to be radicalised, and convicted six others under the Terrorism (Suppression of Financing) Act, he added.

Mr Teo also noted that in May, the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Commercial Affairs Department launched the Anti-Money-Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Industry Partnership. It brings key industry players together with government agencies to better identify, assess and mitigate the money laundering and terrorism financing risks Singapore faces.