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MAS and CAD launched government-industry partnership to strengthen Singapore’s capabilities to fight financial crimes

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) of the Singapore Police Force (SPF) has announced the launch of a government-industry partnership to strengthen Singapore’s capabilities in the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing (ML/TF) on Monday (24 April).

The authorities stated that Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Industry Partnership (ACIP) brings together selected industry participants, regulators, law enforcement agencies and other government entities to collaboratively identify, assess and mitigate the key ML/TF risks facing Singapore.

It added that ACIP will also enhance the detection and mitigation of transnational risks arising from Singapore’s position as an international financial centre and trade hub.

According to the authorities, ACIP comprises of a Steering Group supported by Working Groups which will look into specific risk areas and topics relevant to ML/TF. The Steering Group is co-chaired by CAD and MAS, and comprises of eight banks and the Association of Banks in Singapore.

It will identify and prioritise the key ML/TF risks to focus on, and commission various Working Groups to study these risks further. Relevant industry participants from both within and outside the financial sector will be invited to share and contribute to these Working Groups, which will comprise certain Steering Group members and other representatives from the broader industry.

"The Working Groups will share key information with the private sector and other stakeholders to enhance the collective understanding and mitigation of ML/TF risks," they said.

Mr Chua Kim Leng, Assistant Managing Director (Banking & Insurance), MAS, said, "ACIP institutionalises the close partnership between the Singapore government and the industry on AML/CFT matters. This collaborative approach enables us to identify and address ML/TF risks from different angles so as to better detect, deter and defend Singapore against financial crimes."

Mr David Chew, Director, CAD, said, "Financial crime typologies are evolving rapidly. Countries must explore smarter and more effective ways to combat such crimes. ACIP will be a key enabler in this endeavour."

"We encourage and welcome industry members from both within and outside the financial sector to contribute actively to the work of the ACIP, as well as share the relevant products and best practices with the rest of the financial industry," he added.

MAS in its notice on prevention of anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism states that the process of money laundering comprises three stages, during which there may be numerous transactions that could alert a bank to the money laundering activity:
(a) Placement - The physical disposal of the benefits of criminal conduct;
(b) Layering - The separation of the benefits of criminal conduct from their source by creating layers of financial transactions designed to disguise the audit trail; and
(c) Integration - The provision of apparent legitimacy to the benefits of criminal conduct. If the layering process succeeds, the integration schemes place the laundered funds back into the economy so that they re-enter the financial system appearing to be legitimate business funds.

Companies such as online financial trading companies, casinos, investment companies are trying to keep up with the increasing demand of the monetary regulators of countries by implementing stricter measures such as thorough background checks on individuals, multiple layers of audits and having official identification on records, while minimising the inconvenience caused to customers.