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MAS steps up enforcement on financial offences

MAS steps up enforcement on financial offences

Source: Straits Times
Article Date: 05 Nov 2020
Author: Ovais Subhani

MAS will continue to refine its processes and increasingly leverage technology to heighten effectiveness and efficiency in investigation.

Enforcement actions by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) have ensured that financial criminals pay a heavy price.

They have resulted in nine criminal convictions and $11.7 million in civil penalties in the 18 months to June this year.

The MAS has also imposed $3.3 million in composition penalties for money laundering-related control breaches.

It issued 25 prohibition orders against unfit representatives of financial institutions, according to its enforcement report yesterday.

The average time taken by the MAS to complete its reviews and investigations shortened from 33 months to 24 months in criminal cases, and from 30 months to 26 months in civil penalty cases, compared with the previous 18-month period.

MAS executive director (enforcement) Peggy Pao said: "As our financial sector grows in scale and sophistication, a robust enforcement regime will be critical in sustaining Singapore's reputation as a trusted financial centre."

In the four years since a centralised Enforcement Department was established, the MAS has deepened its enforcement capability and expertise, she noted.

"Rigorous investigation and tough enforcement are necessary to deter financial misconduct, protect consumers and maintain investor confidence," she said.

The report said the successful criminal convictions were the result of collaboration with the Attorney-General's Chambers.

There had been just one conviction in the earlier reporting period.

The MAS' Enforcement Department has also forged closer partnerships with other public agencies, such as the Commercial Affairs Department, the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority, and the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau. These partnerships helped with its reviews or investigations in several complex cases, including matters related to Wirecard, Eagle Hospitality Trust and Hyflux.

The MAS and the Singapore Exchange also jointly published a trade surveillance practice guide to help brokers implement good practices in their trade surveillance operations.

The MAS' enforcement regime is also supplemented by close coordination with its counterparts in the International Organisation of Securities Commissions network, the report said.

The MAS will continue to strengthen its enforcement regime, as the nature of financial misconduct grows in sophistication and complexity, the report added.

The financial regulatory authority will also continue to refine its processes and increasingly tap technology to boost effectiveness and efficiency in investigations.

The enforcement report showcased a few examples of successful investigation and convictions in cases related to market abuse, financial service misconduct and money laundering-related control breaches in the reporting period between January last year and June this year.

Last November, the MAS imposed a civil penalty of $11.2 million on Swiss bank UBS for deceptive trades by its client advisers that contravened Section 201(b) of the Securities and Futures Act.

The client advisers engaged in acts that deceived or were likely to deceive clients about the spreads or inter-bank prices for transactions in over-the-counter bonds and structured products.

UBS admitted liability and agreed to compensate all affected clients managed by UBS' Singapore branch. Meanwhile, investigations into the individuals involved in the misconduct are ongoing.

In Singapore's first case of front-running prosecuted as an insider trading offence last year, two senior equity dealers with First State Investments (Singapore) and a UOB Kay Hian remisier were given 20 months' to 36 months' imprisonment and 13 years' to 15 years' prohibition orders.


SUSTAINING TRUST

As our financial sector grows in scale and sophistication, a robust enforcement regime will be critical in sustaining Singapore's reputation as a trusted financial centre.

MS PEGGY PAO,
executive director (enforcement) at the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

 

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