$69 million in suspicious transactions in S'pore intercepted by authorities since 2019

More than $19 million of incoming funds were blocked through the banks' proactive identification of suspicious accounts. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - About $69 million transferred through suspicious accounts here has been intercepted by the authorities since 2019.

The figure was revealed in a keynote speech on Tuesday (April 27) by Ms Loo Siew Yee, the assistant managing director for Policy, Payments and Financial Crime at the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

Speaking at the 12th Annual Anti-Money Laundering and Anti Financial Crime Conference, organised by the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists, Ms Loo said the successful interceptions were a result of collaborative efforts by the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD), MAS, and the key banks here.

The collaboration was made possible through the Anti-Money Laundering (AML)/Countering the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) Industry Partnership, or ACIP, which is a private-public partnership established in April 2017.

"Since 2019, CAD and MAS have also worked closely with key banks, through the ACIP partnership, on specific cases and targets where intelligence and leads are shared through a hub-and-spoke model for the purposes of surfacing new leads and conducting further analytics," she said.

Ms Loo added that of the successfully intercepted $69 million, more than $19 million of incoming funds were blocked through the banks' proactive identification of suspicious accounts.

In her speech, she also touched on how financial institutions and MAS can work together and smarter in the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing.

She noted that close collaboration and effective use of data analytics have led to key successes in thwarting financial crime, such as the interception of more than $6 million in a scam in March last year by the Anti-Scam Centre.

It was also revealed that MAS has been paying closer attention to virtual assets and digital payment tokens, which pose higher risks given the speed, anonymity and cross-border nature of the transactions they facilitate.

"Since the introduction of the Payment Services Act to regulate digital payment token service providers, MAS has stepped up our efforts to set clear supervisory expectations of AML/CFT controls, and enhance our surveillance of the sector," she said.

"Our in-house surveillance efforts now enable us to pro-actively detect suspicious networks and unlicensed activities for further supervisory and law enforcement actions."

She urged greater collaboration between the financial institutions and the authorities to effectively thwart bad actors.

Addressing stakeholders, she said: "Let me encourage you again to persevere in strengthening your financial institution's AML/CFT effectiveness, by effectively leveraging data analytics and keeping abreast of emerging risks. As professionals, I hope you will individually work to break new ground in these efforts."

Join ST's WhatsApp Channel and get the latest news and must-reads.