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Singapore financial regulation fines increase by 68%

Out-Law News | 19 Nov 2020 | 5:14 am | 1 min. read

Financial regulator the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) issued 68% more fines by value in the 18 months to June than in the previous 18 month period, it has said, but fines for money laundering activity fell.

MAS released its Enforcement Report early last week, covering the 18 month period of January 2019 to June 2020, giving details of enforcement actions taken for breaches of MAS regulations and requirements.

MAS said it would continue to take strong action against financial institutions (FIs) and individuals for market abuse, financial misconduct, and control breaches related to money laundering.

MAS said its five priorities for enforcement are corporate disclosures, business conduct; anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) compliance; insider trading, and brokerage houses' internal controls, according to the Report. The main types of financial services misconduct investigated by MAS are mis-selling of financial products; breaches of business conduct rules, and serious unfitness or impropriety.

During this time MAS imposed S$11.7 million in civil penalties, 67.6% more than in the previous 18 month period July 2017 to December 2018. It also imposed S$3.3m in composition penalties for money laundering related control breaches and issued 25 prohibition orders on unfit representatives, S$13.4m less than the fine during 1 July 2017 to 31 December 2018.

MAS said that in the future it would concentrate its enforcement activity on pursuing serious and complex cases of disclosure breaches; increasing capability to detect mis-selling of financial products; focusing on firms which lack rigorous systems and processes; updating enforcement-related powers to better detect, investigate, and take action against misconduct; and enhancing focus on senior management accountability for breaches by their firms or subordinates.

Mark Tan, an expert in corporate and commercial law at Pinsent Masons, the firm behind Out-Law, said, "I think the publication of the enforcement report by the MAS is a clear sign that it recognises that a rigorous and robust enforcement regime will continue to remain essential to sustaining and enhancing Singapore’s reputation as a global financial centre."

"As the financial sector keeps growing in size and sophistication, it is expected that the MAS will correspondingly expand its investigative and enforcement capabilities, and will continue to rigorously enforce the financial regulations, so as to deter financial misconduct and maintain investor confidence," he said.