MAS bans insurance agent, two traders for dishonesty

They are barred for several years from making securities deals and giving financial advice

Two traders and an insurance agent have been barred for several years from securities deal-making and giving financial advice after they were caught for dishonest dealings, including insider trading and forgery.

The prohibition orders from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) took effect from Wednesday.

Mr Jeremy Lee Seow Poh, who was the managing director at financial services company Jefferies Singapore (JSL), was barred for four years while his former colleague and JSL senior vice-president Ong Eng Keong was banned for two years.

Both men are no longer working at JSL and are now barred from carrying out any regulated activity under the Securities and Futures Act, said the MAS yesterday.

A two-year ban was imposed on Mr Yap Chee Hoe for a separate incident. Mr Yap was an appointed representative at Legacy FA, a financial advisory and insurance firm. He is also forbidden from carrying out business as an insurance intermediary under the Insurance Act. He no longer works at Legacy.

All three men are also not allowed to provide advisory services under the Financial Advisers Act. They are barred from holding any management or director positions and from becoming a substantial shareholder of any firms that come under the Acts covered by their prohibition orders.

In the JSL case, both Mr Lee and Mr Ong were not allowed to trade in bonds in their capacities due to possible conflict with the trading activities between JSL and its clients but they went on to commit insider trading. Without seeking JSL's approval, Mr Lee, who was also its head of sales, went on to trade in bonds using his private banking account between May 2011 and December 2012.

He also colluded with Mr Ong to trade against their own company "using privileged information which they obtained in their course of work on JSL's fixed income desk", said the MAS.

The profits earned by Mr Lee were then shared with Mr Ong.

"JSL would not have entered into these trades if it was aware that Mr Lee was the counter-party due to possible conflict between the personal interests of Mr Lee and Mr Ong, and that of JSL and its clients," said the statement.

JSL gave Mr Lee a written compliance warning for improper business conduct for a customer order in 2015.

Later in 2016, Mr Lee joined Germany's DZ Bank as its director and Asia head of sales for capital market sales, while declaring that he had not been subject to any disciplinary proceedings by his former employer JSL.

The MAS said this was false given the 2015 warning he received from JSL. His lie misled DZ, which wrongly deemed Mr Lee as fit and proper to be its representative.

In the other case, Mr Yap had forged the signatures of five individuals in their insurance application forms as he wanted to expedite their purchases of the policies, said the MAS.

One of the applications also contained false information about the applicant's health and employment status.

Mr Yap's wrongdoing was discovered by Legacy, which then cancelled some of the falsified applications while others were withdrawn by the individuals. None of the five individuals suffered any losses, said the MAS.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 10, 2019, with the headline 'MAS bans insurance agent, two traders for dishonesty'. Print Edition | Subscribe