The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has taken  strong action against financial institutions (FIs) and individuals for market abuse, financial misconduct, and control breaches related to money laundering.

In its Enforcement Report published yesterday (4 Nov), covering the period January 2019 to June 2020, MAS detailed various enforcement actions taken for breaches of MAS regulations and requirements.

The central bank imposed S$11.7 million in civil penalties and, together with the Attorney-General’s Chambers, successfully secured the criminal convictions of nine individuals for market misconduct or related offences. MAS imposed S$3.3 million in composition penalties for money laundering-related control breaches, and issued 25 prohibition orders against unfit representatives.

The average time taken by MAS for completing its reviews and investigations has decreased. It has come down from 33 months to 24 months in criminal cases, and from 30 months to 26 months in civil penalty cases, compared against the previous reporting period.

MAS has stepped up its focus on early detection of market misconduct, working closely with various stakeholders. MAS and the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority established a joint forum to facilitate the review and enforcement of accounting related and disclosure issues. MAS and the Singapore Exchange jointly published a trade surveillance practice guide to help brokers implement good practices in their trade surveillance operations.

MAS will continue to strengthen its enforcement regime, as the nature of financial misconduct grows in sophistication and complexity. MAS will continually refine its processes and increasingly leverage technology to heighten effectiveness and efficiency in investigation.

Looking ahead, MAS said that its enforcement priorities will include pursuing serious and complex cases of disclosure breaches; deepening capability to proactively detect potential mis-selling of financial products; continuing to focus on FIs which lack rigorous systems and processes for combatting money laundering and countering terrorism financing.

It will also prioritise updating enforcement-related powers to better detect, investigate, and take action against misconduct; and enhancing focus on senior management accountability for breaches by their FIs or subordinates.

Ms Peggy Pao, Executive Director (Enforcement), MAS said: “Rigorous investigation and tough enforcement are necessary to deter financial misconduct, protect consumers, and maintain investor confidence.

“In the four years since we established a centralised Enforcement Department, MAS has deepened our enforcement capability and expertise. 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.”