MAS Annual Report 2016/2017

Set out below are certain key highlights and extracts from the MAS Chairman’s Statement.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) published its annual report on 29 June 2017.

As Mr Ravi Menon, Managing Director of the MAS observed during the Annual Report Media Conference “MAS is reputed as a tough, “no-nonsense” regulator. But we also seek to be progressive and proactive in developing the financial sector - to be dynamic, innovative, and purposeful.”

Set out below are certain key highlights and extracts from the Chairman’s Statement (for a flavour of the Singapore regulatory tone).

Chairman’s statement

Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister, Coordinating Minister for Economic and Social Policies and Chairman of the MAS observed:

  • Global uncertainties and unprecedented actions domestically: “It has been an eventful year. Internationally, we have seen important political shifts in several advanced economies, and new uncertainties emerged in multilateral cooperation. Domestically, we have taken decisive and unprecedented actions to preserve the integrity of our financial system.”
  • Preserving the status as a clean and trusted financial centre (AML/CFT): “MAS oversight of the financial sector in the last two years has been marked by major enforcement actions to uphold Singapore’s reputation as a clean and trusted centre. We have worked in partnership with the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) and the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) to investigate transactions related to 1MDB that flowed through some financial institutions in Singapore, and cooperated with regulatory authorities abroad to uncover a large and complex international web of money laundering. MAS took tough, unprecedented measures - closing two merchant banks, fining eight banks and issuing prohibition orders or notices of intention on seven individuals who broke our laws and anti-money laundering regulations. Four of these individuals have also been convicted of criminal offences. Singapore has moved faster than other jurisdictions in this major international episode, and taken a much wider range of enforcement actions.”
  • Enhancing regulatory safeguards for investors: “On the consumer protection front, the Credit Bureau Act and amendments to the Securities and Futures Act were passed in Parliament to safeguard consumer interests, enhance their access to their credit information and better protect investors.”
  • Advancing the digital economy (Venture Capital Ecosystem, Data Analytics and Fintech): “Consistent with the Committee on the Future Economy’s recommendations, MAS is strengthening enterprise financing for growth companies, by enhancing the venture capital ecosystem, and relaxing rules on finance companies in support of start-ups and SMEs. MAS has been amongst the first to introduce a regulatory sandbox to enable FinTech start-ups and financial institutions to experiment with new technologies without posing major risks. The inaugural Singapore FinTech Festival in November 2016 reflected the considerable momentum in Singapore’s emergence as a FinTech hub. The formation of a new Data Analytics Group (DAG) within MAS also reflects our focus on advancing the digital economy. DAG will partner industry to enhance data collection, technological capabilities and analytics expertise, so as to transform the way we do our work, both within MAS and across the financial sector.”
  • Reskilling and strengthening the financial workforce: “As the financial landscape sees disruption globally, MAS has stepped up efforts to facilitate reskilling, strengthen the Singaporean core and ensure a future-ready, globally competitive financial workforce. The Financial Sector Tripartite Committee has ramped up initiatives to proactively manage retrenchments and facilitate redeployment of Singaporean finance professionals to areas seeing job grow”

Looking ahead

There are various other valuable insights in the MAS annual report signalling the regulator’s policies and priorities which we will continue to publish on elexica including the following:

  • Wide-ranging amendments to the Securities and Futures Act which were passed in Parliament in January 2017 and soon expected to be operational (although not yet in force). The amendments target the following key areas: (i) Enhancing regulatory safeguards for investors, (ii) Improving credibility and transparency of capital markets, (iii) Strengthening the enforcement regime against market misconduct, and (iv) Completing legislative reforms for over-the-counter (otc) derivatives regulation.
  • Faster licensing / authorisation for capital market intermediaries and fund managers with the average processing time down to 3.2 months in the second half of 2016.
  • Strengthening cybersecurity and enhancing risk management of outsourcing arrangements with revised Outsourcing Guidelines issued on 27 July 2016 and an announcement that a new Outsourcing Notice will be issued on a later date.
  • Implementation of Common Reporting Standard to effect the automatic exchange of financial account information (AEOI).
  • Enhancing the Resolution Regime in May 2017 with amendments being introduced in Parliament to the MAS Act to resolve distressed FIs in an orderly manner.
2017/2018 is likely to continue to be a busy year for the MAS across all areas of its supervisory, enforcement, and policy work as MAS continues to develop a “robust, trusted and dynamic financial centre”.

This document (and any information accessed through links in this document) is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this document.