MAS fines StanChart Singapore $5.2 million for breaches

The Monetary Authority of Singapore has imposed penalties of $5.2 million on Standard Chartered Bank, Singapore Branch (SCBS) and $1.2 million on Standard Chartered Trust (Singapore) Limited (SCTS) for breaching its anti-money laundering and countering of financing terrorism requirements.

These breaches occurred when trust accounts of SCBS' customers were transferred from Standard Chartered Trust (Guernsey) to SCTS from December 2015 to January 2016, said MAS yesterday.

MAS said it found SCBS and SCTS' risk management and controls in relation to the transfers to be unsatisfactory.

The transfers occurred shortly before Guernsey's implementation of the Common Reporting Standards (CRS) for the automatic exchange of financial account information in tax matters.

"The timing of the transfers raised questions of whether the clients were attempting to avoid their CRS reporting obligations," said MAS.

"However, SCBS and SCTS did not adequately assess and mitigate against this risk factor, and also failed to file suspicious transaction reports in a timely manner," it said.

Last October, reports said Indonesia was investigating reports that US$1.4 billion (S$1.9 billion) held by Standard Chartered in Guernsey, mainly on behalf of Indonesian clients, was transferred to Singapore in 2015, just before the Channel island implemented tax transparency rules.

MAS said that in determining the regulatory action, it took into consideration mitigating factors.

It said SCBS had pro-actively notified the regulator of its internal review on the trust accounts, and SCBS and SCTS management "showed strong commitment" to address the deficiencies identified by MAS.