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Using tech, data to fight crime

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Singapore to step up analytics use to combat money laundering and illegal transnational activities

Singapore will increasingly use technology and data analytics to tackle cross-border crime and money laundering, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean yesterday.

Mr Teo, who is also Coordinating Minister for National Security, added that the authorities will also work with the private sector to target individuals involved in terrorism financing.

His remarks came at the launch of a postgraduate programme on financial forensics from the Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants.

It is the first qualification focused on forensic accountancy offered by a professional body in South-east Asia, said the institute. It aims to train finance graduates to be financial forensic professionals.

Graduates in other disciplines who are working in this field can also apply for the programme, which comprises four modules to be completed in a year.

Applications open on March 1 next year.

Mr Teo said financial professionals can help protect businesses against money laundering and terrorism financing.

"Ultimately, any system of laws, rules and regulations comes down to people - people with integrity who are alert, understand the threats and risks, and are pro-active in dealing with them," he noted.

Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) director David Chew told those at the event that accountants are in a "prime position to flag out suspicious activities" as they examine financial transactions and can recommend internal controls to detect and deter crime.

The CAD has seen the magnitude and complexity of fraud increase while criminals can move money across various jurisdictions, making it challenging to share information and take enforcement action.

But when it comes to money laundering, criminals will keep looking for new ways to mask the beneficial owners and illicit source of their funds.

Mr Teo said that with technology being exploited to commit crimes, the authorities "will increasingly have to use technology and data analytics" to counter such activity, while strengthening regulations and collaborating more closely with officials overseas.

He also noted that in May, the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the CAD launched an initiative that brings industry players together with government agencies to better combat money laundering and terrorism financing.

TechnologyTeo Chee HeanMonetary Authority of Singapore