Singapore

CAD, MAS will now have wider range to conduct joint investigations

The country's white-collar crime unit and the financial regulator will now be able to conduct joint investigations in a wider range of offences.

The move will allow for greater efficiency and more effective enforcement of wrongdoing under the Securities and Futures Act and Financial Advisers Act, said the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) and Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) yesterday. Such wrongdoing covers capital markets and financial advisory offences.

The joint investigations arrangement was launched in March 2015 to cover market misconduct  offences such as insider trading and market manipulation.

The joint probes have resulted in three convictions.

Dennis Tey Thean Yang was found in March last year to have employed a scheme to defraud two providers of contracts for differences.

Convictions were also brought against Alan Tay Yeow Kee in May last year for insider trading in Qualitas Medical Group and Leeden Limited shares, and Mok Piak Liang in January for false trading in Wilton Resources Corp stock.

Several other cases, including those involving the alleged manipulation of shares in Blumont Group, Asiasons Capital and LionGold Corp in the 2013 penny stock crash, are before the courts.

Mr Robson Lee, a partner at law firm Gibson Dunn, welcomed yesterday's announcement, describing it as the right step in "enshrining the integrity" of Singapore's financial market.

He noted that the tight partnership between the two agencies will enable "speedy enforcement" of financial laws, and make people think twice about using Singapore as a conduit for their crimes.

"It makes sense that they should have that kind of collaboration, so they can draw from the best of both MAS and CAD, when speed, experience and judgment are essential components in an investigation," Mr Lee said.

COLLABORATE

In the past, MAS and CAD investigated financial crimes independently, based on an initial assessment of whether the offence was likely to be a civil penalty or criminal prosecution case.

Joint probes enable the agencies to collaborate from the outset, with the decision on whether a case is subject to civil penalty action or criminal prosecution made only when investigations are concluded.

MAS officers taking part in joint investigations will be gazetted as CAD officers, giving them the same criminal powers of investigation, including the ability to search premises and seize items, and to order financial institutions to monitor customer accounts.

The wider collaboration takes effect from Saturday.

COURT & CRIME