As the fight against money laundering intensifies globally, Singapore has taken a significant stride towards strengthening its Anti-Money Laundering (AML) efforts with the introduction of the Collaborative Sharing of Money Laundering/Terrorism Financing Information and Cases (Cosmic) platform. This digital initiative, jointly developed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and six major banks in the country, aims to enhance information sharing and collaboration to combat financial crimes. With digitisation playing an increasingly pivotal role in the fight against money laundering, Singapore’s implementation of Cosmic aligns with the growing trend of leveraging technology to bolster AML measures. In this article, we will delve into the key features of Cosmic and how digitisation is becoming essential in the fight against money laundering.
To facilitate a seamless transition, banks in Singapore have the option to voluntarily participate in Cosmic during its initial phase. This approach allows financial institutions to familiarise themselves with the platform and gives MAS time to ensure its operational stability. The voluntary phase ensures a smooth onboarding process for the participating banks, helping them understand the benefits of digital platforms in combating money laundering.
To establish Cosmic and set out guidelines for its initial phase, Singapore’s Parliament has proposed a Bill to amend the Financial Services and Markets Act. This legislative amendment demonstrates the government’s commitment to creating a robust regulatory framework that supports digitisation in the fight against money laundering. By enacting these changes, Singapore is signaling its determination to stay at the forefront of AML efforts.
Mandatory Information Sharing
While the initial phase is voluntary, MAS intends to make certain aspects of information sharing mandatory in subsequent phases. This gradual transition towards mandatory information sharing underscores the importance of collaboration and the need for a unified front against financial crimes. The mandatory phase will enable broader coverage of financial institutions, ensuring a more comprehensive approach to combating money laundering.
Purpose of Cosmic
Cosmic has been specifically designed to address the challenges posed by sophisticated money laundering networks. By allowing enrolled institutions to request and share information on customers exhibiting suspicious banking behaviour, the platform becomes a crucial tool in detecting illicit activities. Cosmic focuses on key risk areas in commercial banking, such as abuse of shell companies, misuse of trade finance, and financing that supports the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Red Flags and Thresholds
To identify potential money laundering activities, Cosmic employs a range of red flags derived from global and domestic cases. These red flags remain confidential to prevent tipping off offenders. The platform analyses various indicators, including fictitious company profiles, financial transactions without a clear economic purpose, inconsistent replies to queries, and seemingly unrelated companies with common beneficial owners conducting business with each other. By leveraging technology, Cosmic streamlines the detection process, allowing for quicker identification of suspicious activities.
Collaboration among Banks
The collaboration between MAS and six major banks (DBS, OCBC, UOB, Standard Chartered, Citibank, and HSBC) in developing Cosmic highlights the significance of collective action in combatting money laundering. This collaboration showcases how digital technology can facilitate controlled information sharing between banks, regulators, and law enforcement agencies. By leveraging Cosmic’s capabilities, financial institutions can detect illicit activities more effectively, while regulators and law enforcement agencies gain crucial insights to intervene in illicit networks operating within the financial system.
Digitisation’s Role in AML:
The implementation of Cosmic underscores the increasing importance of digitisation in AML efforts. As financial crimes become more sophisticated, traditional manual approaches to detecting money laundering are often inadequate. Digital platforms, like Cosmic, offer a technological advantage by enabling real-time data analysis, pattern recognition, and automation, thus augmenting the effectiveness and efficiency of AML processes. Verify 365, as a digital technology AML software provider, aligns well with Singapore’s proactive stance in leveraging technology to combat financial crimes.
Singapore’s introduction of the Cosmic platform represents a significant step towards enhancing AML measures in the country. By leveraging digitisation and enabling collaboration among financial institutions, regulators, and law enforcement agencies, Cosmic strengthens the fight against money laundering. The voluntary phase allows for a smooth transition, while subsequent mandatory phases ensure broader coverage and comprehensive AML efforts. As digitisation continues to play an increasingly critical role in combating financial crimes, the implementation of Cosmic showcases Singapore’s commitment to staying at the forefront of AML initiatives. Verify 365, with its digital AML software, is well-positioned to support financial services, law firms, and property firms in their compliance efforts and contribute to a safer and more secure financial ecosystem.