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Six banks share customer info to help Singapore fight money laundering

ASIA IN BRIEF Singapore’s Monetary Authority on Monday launched an application, intuitively named “COllaborative Sharing of Money Laundering/TF Information & Cases” (COSMIC for short, obviously) to target money laundering and terrorism financing.

COSMIC was co-developed by MAS and six major commercial banks in Singapore: DBS, OCBC, UOB, Citibank, HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank

The concept behind the venture is that participants may share customer information only if the customer’s profile or behavior displays certain objectively defined characteristics – red flags – that Singaporean law defines as potential indicators of criminal behavior.

The Authority asserts that the law, and COSMIC, protect “the vast majority of customers who are legitimate.” But the Authority also encourages bank customers “to provide timely responses if requested by FIs [financial institutions] to provide clarifications on their risk profiles or transactions, so that FIs can make informed risk assessments.”

– Simon Sharwood

China-linked attackers target ASEAN affiliates

Palo Alto Networks’ Unit 42 revealed last week that Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries have become cyber espionage targets of two Chinese advanced persistent groups.

A group named Stately Taurus targeted entities in Myanmar, the Philippines, Japan and Singapore near the beginning of March as the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit was being held. Malware packages from the found by the researchers – titled Talking_Points_for_China.exe and PSO.scr – installed the malicious files.

The second group targeted government entities within Southeast Asia, including Cambodia, Laos, and Singapore. That group was active throughout January and February, working during China Standard Time business hours, but appeared to take a break for Lunar New Year.

“ASEAN-affiliated entities are attractive targets for espionage operations due to their role in handling sensitive information regarding diplomatic relations and economic decisions in the region,” reasoned Unit 42 of the threat actors’ motives.

Japan revives passenger jet push

Japan is working toward introducing the country’s first domestic passenger jet by 2035 as it seeks to recover from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI)’s failure to produce a regional jet.

Mitsubishi spent 15 years trying to create the SpaceJet, but called it quits in 2023.

The fresh plane plan was revealed by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in an aircraft industry strategy meeting last week, at which a ¥5 trillion ($33 billion) budget was allocated to the effort over the next decade.

Google Cloud’s ANZ boss bails

Google Cloud’s veep for Australia and New Zealand, Alister Dias, on Tuesday announced his departure from the biz.

“Sometimes there simply isn’t enough time and space to focus on everything that is important in life,” he wrote on LinkedIn.

“I have decided to take an extended break to prioritize my family and some exciting personal projects,” Dias wrote.

A Google spokesperson told The Register “Alister has made the decision to move on from Google Cloud after almost three years. Under his leadership, we’ve significantly grown our business, continued our investment in local infrastructure and are strongly positioned to capture the AI opportunity. Alister has been an important part of our growth story in Australia and New Zealand, and we wish him the very best in his next adventure.”

– Simon Sharwood

APAC Dealbook

Recent alliances and deals spotted by The Register across the region last week include:

  • Chinese automaker FAW Group is piloting Alibaba Cloud’s large language model Qwen for business generative AI.

    FAW will use Qwen in its GPT-BI platform to create reports and even analyze data for business decisions, meaning “corporate users with no data background can still explore data-driven business analytics in a quick and efficient manner,” stated an Alibaba press release.

  • Huawei Cloud announced its AI weather forecasting model, Zhiji, was adopted by the Meteorological Bureau of Shenzhen Municipality.

    The regional model is based on Huawei Cloud’s Pangu-Weather Model and can generate five-day forecasts for Shenzhen and neighboring regions with a spatial resolution of 3km.

  • Singapore telecommunication giant Singtel has signed Memoranda of Understanding with Cisco, Fortinet and Nokia to provide a Quantum Safe Network (QSN) service.

    “With this collaboration, enterprises can tap on Cisco’s routing platform, Fortinet’s firewalls and Nokia’s optical devices to boost their defences against advanced cyber threats,” promised Singtel.

  • Alibaba’s fintech arm, Ant Group, and the parent company of low-cost Malaysian airline AirAsia, Capital A Berhad, announced a collaboration to integrate cross-border digital payments and other technology solutions into the ecosystems of AirAsia and its sibling companies.

    “Both sides agreed that AirAsia MOVE will work with Ant International to integrate Alipay+ e-wallets as payment options within the MOVE’s payment flows, and explore the use of various Wallet Tech including super app related solutions as well as developing mini-program within Alipay+ ecosystem,” explained a press release. Meanwhile AirAsia will use Ant Group’s Airline Controller for onboard and in-air payments.

  • Space-to-cloud data and analytics specialist Spire Space Services announced last week it will build and operate two satellites for HANCOM InSpace.

    The satellites – Sejong-2 and Sejong-3 – will work together with already existing Sejong-1 to form a constellation for Korea’s first three-satellite remote sensing image data service.

    Hancom specializes in commercial and government applications of image analysis and was initially a spin-off of the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI). ®

Beijing nudges Netherlands over export sanctions

Chinese commerce minister Wang Wentao last week met with Dutch trade minister Geoffrey van Leeuwen as Beijing sought to influence policy in the Netherlands over export of lithography machines used in semiconductor manufacturing.

The Netherlands has begun denying export licenses to China for deep ultraviolet machines made by local champion ASML to China, per chip export sanctions agreed upon last year.

According to China’s Commerce Ministry, the ministers had an “in-depth exchange of views” on the export of lithography machines and ways to strengthen cooperation in the semiconductor industry. ®