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MAS meted out fines totalling S$16.8 million to financial institutions over 18 months

SINGAPORE — The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) fined 42 financial institutions a total of S$16.8 million for the period between July 1, 2017 and Dec 31, 2018 for market abuse, financial services misconduct and money laundering-related breaches.

MAS meted out fines totalling S$16.8 million to financial institutions over 18 months

The Monetary Authority of Singapore fined 42 financial institutions a total of S$16.8 million from the period between July 1, 2017 and Dec 31, 2018.

SINGAPORE — The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) fined 42 financial institutions a total of S$16.8 million for the period between July 1, 2017 and Dec 31, 2018 for market abuse, financial services misconduct and money laundering-related breaches.

It also meted out S$698,000 in civil penalties to two insider trading cases and one unauthorised trading case, according to the central bank’s first-ever enforcement report released on Wednesday (March 20).

Investigations by the MAS also led to one criminal conviction. In Jan 2018, Mok Piak Liang — who was an investor — was jailed for four months for false trading.

Mok had bought shares from Wilton Resources right before trading closed on 13 trading days. This altered the closing price of Wilton shares, artificially pushing it up. His purchases created a false appearance of Wilton's share price.

The financial penalties imposed by MAS excluded almost S$30 million in fines slapped on eight banks over a 12-month period from May 2016 to 2017. This was a result of investigations by MAS into transactions involving Malaysia’s state investment fund, 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

The MAS’ report sets out the enforcement actions taken by the authority towards individuals or entities for any financial misconduct. It does not include cases led by the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) under a joint investigation arrangement between both agencies.

The report was prepared by the MAS’ enforcement department — which was set up in August 2016 — and subsequent reports will be issued every 18 months.

Besides financial sanctions and criminal convictions, the report also said that 19 prohibition orders were issued to finance professionals, barring them from re-entering the sector. Thirty-seven reprimands and 223 warnings were also served. The average time it took for all cases to be concluded was eight months.

In its report, MAS stated that the 1MDB review was its “most comprehensive” investigation into offences related to money laundering or terrorism financing.

“There are ongoing investigations into other financial institutions and individuals suspected of being involved in the 1MDB-related offences”, it said.

The enforcement department also utilised an augmented intelligence tool, Project Apollo, which is aimed at helping investigators cut down time needed to assess whether market manipulation has occurred based on a lead.

Based on MAS’ testing, Project Apollo was able to correctly assess this 98 per cent of the time.

The report also showed that there are 37 outstanding cases of market abuse and 38 cases of financial misconduct that have yet to be concluded.

As for money laundering-related breaches, two banks are also currently under investigation, though MAS did not provide more details.

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