MAS proposes new requirements to curb market abuse in consultation paper

MAS has proposed that financial institutions be required to maintain a centralised electronic register of all payments received in cash or from third parties by the financial institutions into their customers' accounts.
MAS has proposed that financial institutions be required to maintain a centralised electronic register of all payments received in cash or from third parties by the financial institutions into their customers' accounts.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is seeking to impose new requirements on financial institutions (FIs) in Singapore to improve controls and facilitate investigations in market abuse cases.

MAS cited in a consultation paper released on Monday (Aug 5) that the absence of information and delays associated with the retrieval of information on individuals who own or control trading accounts have impeded investigations into market abuses. Moreover, such challenges, MAS added, have been exacerbated by technology, the increasing number of cross-border transactions as well as insufficient controls to detect and deter market abuse at brokerages.

The measures proposed include the introduction of a client identification rule, which aims to alleviate challenges in identifying ultimate beneficial owners (UBOs) of orders and trades (O&Ts) executed in omnibus accounts held in the name of foreign intermediaries.

Under the rule, financial institutions are required to provide information on UBOs to MAS or other law enforcement agencies within five business days upon request.

In the event that a financial institution's client does not wish to disclose the identities of underlying clients to the FI, such information may be provided directly to the requesting law enforcement agency.

At present, records of communication on broker-assisted O&Ts are usually not recorded or retained by FIs, especially if communication is through personal devices such as mobile phones.

Therefore, it has proposed that FIs record all communication - including those through personal devices - between their trading representatives and the person instructing the O&T for any capital market product in a customer's account. This should be carried out even if communication does not result in a transaction. Such records will need to be kept for five years.

With mobile self-directed trading becoming more prevalent in recent years, MAS has also proposed the introduction of client device identification, where financial institutions will need to record the device ID for O&Ts via mobile trading applications. Device IDs are a unique alphanumerical identifier generated when a mobile application is installed on a device.

Currently, a number of FIs permit payments in trading accounts to be made in cash and/or by third parties. MAS noted that while legitimate reasons exist for making such transactions, "cases of market abuse having shown that individuals who intended to hide a trail of illicit trading activities have often exploited FI's practices and policies on account funding".

Therefore, MAS has proposed that FIs are required to maintain a centralised, electronic register of all payments received in cash or from third parties by the FIs into their customers' accounts. A register of records must be produced for MAS or other law enforcement agencies upon request.

The proposed requirements, which will be set out in a new Notice on Controls against Market Abuse, apply to licensed and exempt FI's in Singapore that undertake the regulated activity of dealing in capital markets products. The proposed notice will take effect six months from the date of issuance.

The consultation period, where MAS invites comments from all financial institutions and members of the public, ends on Sept 5.

Separately, MAS and the Singapore Exchange Regulation released a guide to assist brokers on best practices for trade surveillance operations.

The guiding principles for trade surveillance include strong senior management oversight, having sound detection mechanisms and assessment frameworks, having sufficient resources for trade surveillance, a proper record-keeping and quality assurance framework, and having prompt and confidential communications on potential market misconduct.