OCBC is first Singapore bank to set up ethics committee

Chaired by OCBC chairman Ooi Sang Kuang, the new ethics and conduct board includes two other directors - Lee Tih Shih and Christina Ong. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - OCBC Bank has become the first Singapore bank to set up an ethics and conduct board committee.

In a statement on Wednesday (March 27), OCBC said the new committee is to ensure that the group's core values of trust and integrity continue to anchor the way it conducts its business.

"Given the environment today, where several financial institutions - including top international banks - have been mired in controversies in recent years involving ethical misconduct, the setting up of the new board committee is timely to ensure that responsible banking is rigorously enforced across the whole OCBC group," it said.

Chaired by OCBC chairman Ooi Sang Kuang, the new ethics and conduct board includes two other directors - Lee Tih Shih and Christina Ong.

It provides oversight of policies, guidelines and programmes that support a strong and responsible organisation culture firmly founded on its core values and the spirit of long-term thinking, the bank said. The new board committee held its first meeting on Wednesday and laid out its expectations and standards for all 29,000 employees of the group to sustain and grow a strong culture of responsible banking and fair dealing. The new committee oversees a new culture and conduct management committee chaired by group chief executive Samuel Tsien.

The new conduct management committee will implement initiatives to enhance existing policies and programmes on ethics and conduct, as well as roll out new ones to ensure these core values are always embedded in the DNA of every OCBC employee.

Said Mr Ooi: "In the last decade, there have been several high-profile examples of questionable conduct by financial institutions. These examples span the globe and the misconduct ranges from extreme over-leveraging to violating international sanctions, tax fraud and money laundering. The misconduct stems mostly from an imbalance between the pursuit of financial goals and responsible banking."

Mr Ooi added: "The banking industry is transforming rapidly due to technological advancements, and customers' expectations have also changed. However, what has not changed is that our customers still expect us to be utterly worthy of their trust. That is why amid so much change in the banking industry, our underlying values of integrity and honesty must never change.

"Trust in financial institutions is not just critical to a bank's success. Without such trust, a country's financial system will not be able to productively serve the country and society."

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