MAS to up its market surveillance capability, says SGX should remain a self-regulatory organisation

SINGAPORE - The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will boost its capability to do market surveillance and reduce the regulatory burden of exchanges here after a review of the regulatory landscape, said the central bank's deputy managing director Ong Chong Tee.

But the Singapore Exchange will remain a self-regulatory organisation (SRO), responsible for both monitoring its listed members as well as retaining its function to attract listings, added Mr Ong.

"We believe that SGX - as the only securities exchange in Singapore - remains an appropriate listing authority," he said at the first SGX equities dialogue held on Thursday (Jan 28) afternoon.

SGX has raised its listing criteria and set up three independent listing committees which help assess candidates for listing onto the exchange, he said. Mr Ong added: "We believe that these are positive developments and we should allow these committees to carry out their respective oversight functions."

But the review also showed that there could be further streamlining of the regulatory functions of exchanges here, as they are also inspecting companies which are also under the supervision of the MAS.

As such, these exchanges will no longer need to inspect its members which have been licensed by the MAS on areas such as anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing and operational resilience from this year, said Mr Ong.

On the issue of the investigation to the penny stock debacle, Mr Ong said the case is an advanced stage but noted that the case is a complex one.

"It is still premature for me to comment but I just want to note that this is a complex exercise that is ongoing and involves vast amounts of trade data from more than 500 trading accounts, requiring our investigators to obtain and comb through more than 20,000 communication messages, many witnesses and other pieces of potential evidence," he said.

Despite the challenging period for the market, with the high levels of volatility, Mr Ong said Singapore remains an attractive financial market.

A survey commissioned by the Institute of Banking and Finance and the SGX showed that 70 per cent of the clients did not make a single trade over the past year. Remisiers will however have opportunities to upgrade their skills in a structured manner.