Wednesday, December 9, 2015

MAS Notice SFA04-N02 Amendment Notice November 2015

The Monetary Authority of Singapore ("MAS") has made minor amendments to its notices regarding anti-money laundering (“AML”) and countering the financing of terrorism (“CFT”), including Notice SFA04-N02 for capital markets intermediaries: For government entities, the exemption from the requirement to inquire about beneficial owners has been cancelled. Clarifications have been made with regards to Enhanced Customer Due Diligence (“ECDD”) and Simplified Customer Due Diligence (“SCDD”); the latter allowing for more flexibility in SCDD. The most significant amendment is the explicit requirement to obtain the full name of the beneficiary of a life policy where the capital markets intermediary (“CMI”) distributes such policy as soon as the beneficiary is identified by the CMI, at the latest at the time of pay-out.

For more information, please read our regulatory update here.

Monday, November 9, 2015

MAS Circular to FMCs on Enhancing AML/CFT Measures (“CMI 03/2015”)

The Monetary Authority of Singapore ("MAS") has published a Circular to report on its findings from thematic inspections performed on financial institutions ("FIs") from September 2014 to January 2015. 

Fund management companies (“FMCs”) in general have put in place policies and procedures ("P&Ps") on anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (“AML/CFT”). However, some FMCs have not applied their controls consistently.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Opt-In Regime for Accredited Investors and Other Enhancements to Investor Safeguards in Singapore

In its response to feedback on the proposals to enhance regulatory safeguards for investors in the capital markets, the Monetary Authority of Singapore ("MAS") has announced the extension of its regulations on specific non-conventional investment products and, most importantly, the introduction of an opt-in regime for Accredited Investors ("AIs").

Monday, August 31, 2015

OECD Automatic Exchange of Information & Common Reporting Standards

In July 2014, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (“OECD”) published the Standard for Automatic Exchange of Information (“AEoI”) in Tax matters (herein the “Standard”). The goal of the Standard is to improve cooperation between tax administrations, protect the integrity of tax systems and to clamp down on offshore tax evasions. Amongst the four documents found in the Standard, the Common Reporting Standard (“CRS”) contains the due diligence rules for which Financial Institutions (“FIs”) have to collect and exchange information. This consistency of information exchanged ensures predictability and quality of data analysis and facilitates the optimal use of information by jurisdictions. The OECD further published the CRS implementation Handbook in August 2015 to provide practical guidance to assist government officials in implementing the Standard.

Friday, July 31, 2015

FATF Report on AML/CTF in Gold Markets

The Financial Action Task Force (“FATF”) has released a report on money laundering and terrorist financing risks and vulnerabilities associated with gold. The gold market provides criminals with an alternative route to store or move their assets in the face of more stringent regulations from authorities. Through the use of gold, illicit funds can be made anonymous, transformable and easily exchangeable.


Maroon's office location in Singapore, the Afro-Asia Building, is featured heavily in the upcoming Hitman: Agent 47 movie in a high-octane, action sequence in which our protagonist Agent 47 engaged in a fervent firefight with a squad of armed special forces. Catch all the espionage and explosions when the movie opens in theatres islandwide on August 27 2015!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Cyber Security Preparedness

In this advanced cyber age, information technology ("IT") risks need to be effectively managed in order to protect data and prevent unauthorised access to systems and infrastructure. An increasing number of cases of data security breaches have been observed in recent times, as evident in Japan, the U.S. and even Singapore in the past year. The consequences of such incidents are severe, resulting in the compromise of the personal and financial information of millions of individuals.

Basel Committee Proposes Revisions to the General Guide to Account Opening

The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision ("BCBS") has issued a public consultation on the proposed revisions to the General Guide to Account Opening. The Guide focuses on the measures that banks can undertake in order to develop functional customer identification and verification procedures so that they are able to meet their obligations under the anti-money laundering (“AML”) and countering the financing of terrorism (“CFT”) requirements. Once finalized, the Guide will be incorporated into the BCBS' guidelines for a sound management of risks related to money laundering and financing of terrorism.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Automatic Exchange of Information between Switzerland and the EU

Switzerland and the European Union (“EU”) have signed an agreement for the automatic exchange of information (“AEOI”) on the financial accounts of each other's residents from 2018. With the signing of the AEOI agreement, specific agreements with individual EU countries will no longer be necessary.

Read our update on the topic here.

EU Issues Fourth Money Laundering Directive

The European Parliament has passed the Fourth Money Laundering Directive (“MLD4”) to combat money laundering and terrorist financing in the European Union ("EU"). The new anti-money laundering ("AML") framework will enable the different Member States to work together in identifying and following suspicious transactions as well as to facilitate the exchange of information. Money laundering and terrorist financing are frequently carried out internationally and hence, measures adopted at national or at union level will be insufficient if international coordination and cooperation is not taken into account. The Directive sets out the preventive measures to curb money laundering and terrorist financing.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Amendments to MAS Notices and Guidelines to FIs on Prevention of Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism, in particular the Notice and Guidelines to Capital Markets Intermediaries

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (“MAS”) has revised the notices and guidelines on anti-money laundering (“AML”) and countering the financing of terrorism (“CFT”) for financial institutions (“FIs”) in order to be better aligned with international best practices and the latest recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (“FATF”).

FIs are now required to identify and assess money laundering (“ML”) and terrorism financing (“TF”) risks on an enterprise-wide level. Risk assessments must also be performed before using new products, business practices and technologies.

In particular, for capital markets intermediaries (“CMIs”), the definitions of customer and beneficial owner have been amended such that the underlying investors into investment vehicles that the CMI itself manages are treated as the CMI's customers.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Boost for MAS against Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing

Proposed changes to the Monetary Authority of Singapore ('MAS') Act have been announced in order to shore up the city-state's defence against money laundering and terrorism financing.

Money laundering cases are emerging on a global scale and Singapore, being a reputable financial hub, has recently been listed as a jurisdiction of primary concern on the U.S. Money Laundering List.

The proposed changes to the MAS Act will align Singapore's anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism ('AML/CFT') regime more closely with the international standards set by the Financial Action Task Force ('FATF') and the Core Principles for Effective Banking Supervision by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision.

Monday, April 13, 2015

MAS Issues Order to Financial Institutions on the Remote Gambling Act

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (‘MAS’) has issued a Payment Blocking Order to financial institutions with regards to the Remote Gambling Act, effectively blocking financial transactions with specified parties.

The Remote Gambling Act was enacted to regulate gambling activities in Singapore. Singapore prohibits all types of remote gambling activities and the Act provides the government with the powers to introduce control measures.

Friday, April 10, 2015

FCA Fines and Prohibits Compliance Director from Performing Compliance Oversight

Regulatory authorities are increasingly taking enforcement action not only against the companies, but against individuals for lapses in compliance controls in financial firms. The Financial Conduct Authority ("FCA") has fined former compliance director of Financial Group, Stephen Bell, GBP 33,800 for weaknesses in the group’s compliance systems and controls. The FCA has also banned Bell from performing the compliance oversight function.

Britain’s FCA and PRA to Introduce New Rules on Accountability

The Financial Conduct Authority ("FCA") and the Prudential Regulatory Authority ("PRA") will be introducing new rules to enhance individual responsibility and accountability in the financial industry. The new rules come after bankers were punished following taxpayer bailouts of UK lenders during the 2008 financial crisis.

The PRA has published the first set of rules to implement the new Senior Managers Regime and Certification Regime for UK banks, building societies, credit unions and PRA-designated investment firms and the Senior Insurance Managers Regime for Solvency II insurers.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Updates to Practice Note on Recommendations on Investment Products (“FAA PN-02”)

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (“MAS”) has updated the Practice Note on Recommendations on Investment Products (“FAA PN-02”). Clients of financial advisers may now obtain and demonstrate their knowledge to transact in an unlisted Specified Investment Product (“SIP”) by passing the assessment at the end of the e-learning module by The Association of Banks in Singapore and the Securities Association of Singapore in respect of that unlisted SIP.

For more information, please read our regulatory update on the issue here.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

The Criminalisation of Foreign Tax Offences in Singapore

Singapore has made great strides in outlawing foreign tax offences. Three years after clear indications were given that assets involved in tax evasion are not welcome in Singapore, financial institutions in Singapore have increasingly been required to actively counter all assets involved in foreign tax offences.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Singapore Listed as a "Jurisdiction of Primary Concern” on U.S. Money Laundering List

Singapore has been designated as a “Jurisdiction of Primary Concern” on the U.S. Major Money Laundering List according to the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report released in March 2015.

The U.S. defines a major money laundering country as one whose financial institutions engage in currency transactions involving significant amounts of proceeds from international narcotics trafficking. The growth of Singapore's private banking and asset management industry coupled with the limited large currency reporting requirements is considered to make it a potentially attractive money laundering destination for transnational criminals and corrupt foreign officials. Furthermore, Singapore is a major transshipment port which hosts a myriad of free trade zones (‘FTZs’), leaving it vulnerable to trade-based money laundering and trade fraud.

MAS and CAD to collaborate against Market Misconduct Offences

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (“MAS”) and the Commercial Affairs Department (“CAD”) of the Singapore Police Force have announced that they will work together to investigate market misconduct offences such as insider trading and market manipulation. The MAS and CAD will integrate their resources and expertise, by utilizing MAS’ role as a financial regulator and CAD’s financial crime investigation and intelligence capabilities. The arrangement will promote greater efficiency and coordination for the formulation of enforcement policies in the area of market misconduct.

MAS officers involved in the joint investigations will be designated as Commercial Affairs Officers, providing them with the same criminal powers of investigation as CAD officers. CAD officers are granted the power to search premises and confiscate items as well as to order financial institutions to monitor customer accounts. This will in turn improve the overall effectiveness of investigations.

With these steps in tow, Singapore is making significant headway in the fight against financial crime as it looks forward to preserve its standing as a trusted financial hub and to strengthen confidence in its capital markets.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

FATF Public Statement

The Financial Action Task Force (‘FATF’) has issued a statement highlighting the strategic deficiencies in the anti-money laundering/combating the financing of terrorism ('AML/CFT') regimes of two groups of jurisdictions:

  • The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea ('DPRK') and Iran have not shown sufficient commitment to address their serious AML/CFT deficiencies.
  • Algeria, Ecuador, and Myanmar have not yet made sufficient progress in addressing their strategic deficiencies.

Financial institutions are advised to take the appropriate action and due diligence measures as recommended by the FATF with respect to the named jurisdictions.

A point worth nothing is that Indonesia has been moved to the FATF’s 'improving' list of countries who have addressed AML/CFT failings.

More information can be found on the FATF website.

Friday, March 13, 2015

IRAS Takes Steps to Curb Tax Evasion

Regulators worldwide are cracking down on tax evasion, an issue which has come to prominence especially with the recent revelations that UK bank HSBC had assisted more than 100,000 wealthy individuals from paying tax.

With the advent of the increase in marginal tax rates for individuals who earn at least SGD 160,000 as announced in the recent Singapore Budget 2015 statement, high income earners may decide to set up companies in order to avoid higher personal income taxes, and in turn, pay the corporate income tax of 17% instead. The personal income tax for high income earners will be increased up to 22% percent on the chargeable income from the year of assessment 2017.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Amended Rules on Risk Based Capital Adequacy Requirements for Holders of Capital Markets Services Licenses

In July 2013, the Monetary Authority of Singapore introduced a new regime regarding capital requirements for Capital Markets Services licence holders. 

Independent Asset Managers (‘IAM’) that are Licensed Fund Management Companies (‘LFMC’) must in general maintain:
  • A Base Capital of SGD 250,000; and
  •  Financial Resources exceeding 120% of their Total Risk Requirement.          
The Financial Resources are basically the available shareholders’ equity. In most cases, the Total Risk Requirement amounts to:
  • SGD 100,000 for IAMs with an Annual Gross Income of SGD 2 million or below; or
  • 5% of the IAM’s Annual Gross Income up to SGD 10 million plus 2% of its Annual Gross Income above SGD 10 million.