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.