MAS ENFORCEMENT TRENDS & “ENFORCEMENT REPORT” STATISTICS OVER THE YEARS
In 2016, MAS established a dedicated Enforcement Department to centralise its enforcement functions across the banking, insurance, capital markets and other sectors regulated by the MAS.
Since March 2019, the MAS has issued an “Enforcement Report” every 18 months to summarise its enforcement work against firms and individuals for breaches of rules and regulations administered by the MAS and MAS’ upcoming enforcement priorities.
The latest report, published in April 2022, was the 3rd Enforcement Report. It covered the period from July 2020 to December 2021. We expect the release of the next (i.e. the 4th) Enforcement Report, covering January 2022 to June 2023, around October 2023.
Over the successive reporting periods, we noted that criminal convictions secured by MAS and the Attorney General’s Chambers rose from one in the period July 2017 to December 2018 to roughly 8 per reporting period, with 9 criminal convictions from January 2019 to June 2020 and 7 from July 2020 to December 2021. Compared to the growth trend in criminal conviction numbers, the amounts of financial penalties and compositions as well as civil penalties collected by the MAS fluctuated a lot more. Financial penalties and compositions totalled S$16.8m, S$3.4m and S$2.59m and civil penalties totalled S$698,000, S$11.7m and S$150,000 over the 3 reporting periods respectively.
The MAS’ enforcement toolkit also includes prohibition orders, licence revocations, reprimands, warnings, letters of advice and supervisory reminders. The numbers of such actions were relatively stable across the Enforcement Reporters. Understandably, we noticed more instances of actions carrying lower severity, such as warnings, letters of advice and supervisory reminders compared to actions with greater impact like prohibition orders, licence revocations and reprimands.
Over the 3 Enforcement Reports, we noticed that the average time that MAS took to complete reviews and investigations dropped markedly from 33, 24 and then to 9 months for criminal convictions and from 30, 26 and then 19 months for civil penalty cases.
The highlights of MAS’ enforcement work have varied across the years with different specific, high-profile cases that have demanded MAS’ attention. However, a constant across the reporting periods is MAS’ unwavering efforts to take enforcement action against market abuse, misconduct by licensed firms and representatives and lapses in the anti-money laundering/counter-financing of terrorism (“AML/CFT”) systems and controls of licensed firms. Additionally, in the latest 2 reporting periods, holding senior management accountable for breaches by their FIs or subordinates was featured as a priority. We have no doubt that the next Enforcement Report will disclose actions by MAS in these areas. We also highlight that in 2022/2023 MAS stated that it will step up its focus on corporate finance advisory firms and fund management companies that fail to comply with business conduct requirements.
The principal of Integrity Consulting formerly worked in the MAS’ Enforcement division, Capital Markets Department, which was the precursor to the dedicated Enforcement Department formed by MAS in 2016. We are a compliance consulting firm that provides specialist compliance advice and support, including on AML consulting services, market abuse training and advice and for firms who may potentially be facing enforcement action or wishing to ensure they stay far away from ever facing enforcement action. To get started on your compliance journey, visit us at https://integrity-consult.com/ or call us at +65 3105 1515 to speak to us today!