SINGAPORE (Apr 9): Expectations were not especially high when Singapore Exchange Regulation formally began operations last September, headed by Tan Boon Gin, a former director of the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) and a one-time District Judge of the Subordinate Courts. The Singapore Exchange had long been accused of having business interests that conflicted with its regulatory role, and it was unclear at the time how independent Tan and SGX RegCo would be in ensuring that the 746 locally listed companies played by the rules. If the past week is anything to go by, however, it does appear that the tone of market regulation is becoming more proactive and high-profile.

Within a matter of days, SGX RegCo has effectively booted out the chairman of a public- listed company mired in a financial scandal, threatened the board of another public-listed company with fines and jail time for appointing an independent reviewer with a conflict of interest, referred a separate public-listed company to CAD after it made gross errors in its financial reports, and rubbished a controversial restructuring plan mooted by yet another company. For the boards and senior officers of locally listed companies, these moves are a warning that any wrongdoing on their part will have swift and severe consequences.

The most remarkable of SGX RegCo’s recent moves came on April 2, when it banned Chen Wei Ping, executive chairman of Midas Holdings, from his position and from serving as a director of any other Singapore-listed company for the next three years. While people have been banned from sitting on boards of companies before, this is said to be the first time such action has been taken so publicly — it was disclosed in an announcement on SGXNet.

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