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OCBC, Singapore police automate data retrieval to quicken financial crime detection

OCBC Bank - Loretta Yuen.jpg
Loretta Yuen, OCBC’s head of group legal and regulatory compliance, said: “We are also able to turn the volume, variety and variability of our data into insights to help sharpen the accuracy of our work ... which will in turn help in combating financial crime and mitigate money-laundering risks.”

LAW enforcement agencies in Singapore can now obtain critical banking information more quickly to detect and investigate financial crime cases, under a collaboration between OCBC Bank and the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) of the Singapore Police Force (SPF).

OCBC has come up with Project Poet, a solution which automates data retrieval from the bank to shorten the turnaround time.

Information that used to take between 10 days and three months to process will now be available to law enforcement agencies within one or two working days, the bank and SPF said in a joint media statement on Thursday.

Previously, the data retrieval process was mostly manual and taxing on manpower, especially when an extensive volume of information was requested.

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Project Poet also uses artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics, which will improve Singapore’s anti-money laundering risk management regime.

OCBC will use AI and transaction link-analysis tools to monitor and identify hidden relations and suspicious activities by specific customers or groups of customers. Link analysis is a technique to analyse data by evaluating relationships between different entities, including transactions, people and organisations.

Such monitoring and in-depth analysis of suspicious accounts will boost the sense-making capabilities of both OCBC and Singapore’s financial intelligence unit, the Suspicious Transaction Reporting Office at CAD, according to the joint statement.

Loretta Yuen, OCBC’s head of group legal and regulatory compliance, said: “We are also able to turn the volume, variety and variability of our data into insights to help sharpen the accuracy of our work and allow us to better prioritise it, which will in turn help in combating financial crime and mitigate money-laundering risks.”

Project Poet, which stands for “Production Orders: Electronic Transmission”, was announced on Thursday morning by T Raja Kumar, deputy secretary (international and training) at the Ministry of Home Affairs, during the Financial Crime Seminar organised by the Association of Banks in Singapore.

Mr Kumar said: “As financial transactions continue to shift increasingly into the fast-moving digital space, it’s crucial for law enforcement agencies to be able to access relevant banking information quickly for their investigations.”

“We should… leverage predictive analytics to allow banks and authorities to work together to connect the dots and do so quickly, to spot suspicious trends and patterns and move in fast and effectively to arrest malicious activities,” Mr Kumar said.

This is because criminals and terrorists will continue to become more sophisticated in their modus operandi and in their ability to use technology to try to beat the system, he added.