The Monetary Authority of Singapore has imposed $11.7 million in civil penalties and secured the criminal convictions of nine individuals for market misconduct or related offences from Jan 2019 to Jun 2020.

This was revealed in its 2019-2020 Enforcement Report released on Nov 4. The report also added that MAS imposed $3.3 million in composition penalties for money laundering-related control breaches, and issued 25 prohibition orders against unfit representatives.

 See also: MAS discontinues $1,000 notes to pre-empt money laundering and terrorism financing risks

This is compared to the previous reporting period in Jul 2017 to Dec 2018, which reported $698,000 in civil penalties and one criminal conviction, in addition to $16.8 million worth of composition penalties and 19 POs.

In response to The Edge Singapore, a MAS spokesperson said, “The increase in strong enforcement actions such as criminal convictions and prohibition orders reflects MAS’ commitment to taking robust actions where our investigations reveal serious misconduct.”

However, the spokesperson added it is also important to bear in mind that the total number and the types of enforcement outcomes, as well as the quantum of penalties, can vary across reporting periods depending on various other factors, including the number, type and nature of breaches that are uncovered and investigated by the Enforcement Department.

In a release, MAS said the average time taken for completing its reviews and investigations has decreased 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 said it has stepped up its focus on early detection of market misconduct, and has established a joint forum with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) to facilitate the review and enforcement of accounting-related and disclosure issues. 

This is in addition to a trade surveillance practice guide published with the Singapore Exchange to help brokers implement good practices in their trade surveillance operations.

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

Moving forward, MAS said its enforcement priorities looking ahead include pursuing serious and complex cases of disclosure breaches, focusing on FIs which lack rigorous systems and processes for combatting money laundering and countering terrorism financing, as well as enhancing their focus on senior management accountability for breaches by their FIs or subordinates.