The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has rolled out a digital platform and enabling regulatory framework for financial institutions to share with one another relevant information on customers and transactions to prevent money laundering, terrorism financing and proliferation financing. Known as Collaborative Sharing of Money Laundering/Terrorism Financing Information and Cases (COSMIC), the platform was co-created together with DBS, OCBC, UOB, Standard Chartered Bank, Citibank and HSBC, and is targeted to launch in the first half of 2023.

It will enable financial institutions to securely share information on customers or transactions. According to MAS, such information sharing will help financial institutions and disrupt illicit networks. At the same time, the platform will have strong security features to prevent unauthorised access to information and will be operated by MAS. MAS will offer in legislation that this information sharing by financial institutions is permitted only for the purpose of tackling money laundering and terrorism financing. All COSMIC participants are also required to implement robust measures to safeguard against unauthorised use and disclosure of COSMIC information. MAS will supervise financial institutions for compliance with these requirements and take action against errant ones.

According to MAS, a common challenge that financial institutions in most jurisdictions face is that they are unable to warn one another about unusual activity in customers’ accounts. This gap is frequently exploited by financial criminals to make illicit transactions through a web of entities with accounts in different financial institutions, such that each financial institution on its own does not have sufficient information to detect these transactions in a timely manner.

Loo Siew Yee, assistant MD (policy, payments and financial crime), said COSMIC will significantly enhance financial institutions' ability to detect and curb suspicious activity while minimising the impact on legitimate actors.

"The information-sharing framework is designed to target serious criminal behaviours and allow financial institutions to more quickly detect the bad actors to purge and deter them. It will strengthen Singapore’s position as a trusted financial centre and place to do business, where financial institutions can better serve the vast majority of legitimate customers," she added.

Photo courtesy: 123RF

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