24 March 2018
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MAS, CAD extend joint investigations to all capital markets, financial advisory offences

Business Times
14 Mar 2018
Wong Kai Yi

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the police's white-collar crime unit, the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD), will extend their joint investigations arrangement to now cover all offences under the Securities and Futures Act (SFA) and Financial Advisers Act (FAA).

The move, which takes effect from March 17 this year, will allow for greater efficiency and more effective enforcement of capital markets and financial advisory offences, the two agencies said in a joint press statement on Tuesday.

The October 2013 penny stock crash prompted the formation of the joint investigations arrangement, which was launched in March 2015 to cover market misconduct offences such as insider trading and market manipulation.

The joint probes of market misconduct have so far resulted in three convictions: Dennis Tey Thean Yang in March 2017 for employing a scheme to defraud two providers of contract for differences; Alan Tay Yeow Kee in May 2017 for insider trading in the shares of Qualitas Medical Group and Leeden Limited; and Mok Piak Liang in January 2018 for false trading in the shares of Wilton Resources Corp.

Several other cases, including persons involved in the alleged manipulation of shares in Blumont Group, Asiasons Capital and LionGold Corp in the 2013 penny stock crash, are currently before the courts.

Speaking to The Business Times, Robson Lee, a partner at law firm Gibson Dunn, personally welcomed the move, describing it as the right step in "enshrining the integrity" of Singapore's financial market.

He said that the tight partnership between the two agencies will enable "speedy enforcement" of MAS's financial laws, and will make people think twice about using Singapore as a conduit for their crimes.

"It makes sense that they should have that kind of collaboration, so they can draw from the best of both MAS and CAD, when speed, experience and judgement are essential components in an investigation," Mr Lee concluded.

In the past, MAS and CAD investigated financial crimes independently, based on an initial assessment of whether the offence was likely to be a civil penalty or criminal prosecution case.

Joint investigations enable MAS and CAD to collaborate from the outset, with the decision on whether a case is subject to civil penalty action or criminal prosecution made only when investigations are concluded.

They also allow MAS and CAD to pool their investigative resources and expertise, drawing from MAS's role as a financial regulator and CAD's financial crime investigation and intelligence capabilities.

MAS officers taking part in joint investigations will be gazetted as CAD officers, giving them the same criminal powers of investigation, including the ability to search premises and seize items, and to order financial institutions to monitor customer accounts.

Source: Business Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.