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As the end of 2020 approaches, I’m sure many of us would rather not reflect on what a year it has been and look for the positives in what the future might bring. In Singapore many businesses have now returned to the office, albeit for some only half the team or half the week. But it’s a different story here in Hong Kong, with restrictions tightening yet again, as we enter into a ‘fourth wave’ and attempt to contain the virus.
Coping with change is now standard for all of us, and it is fair to say our regulators continue to supervise and enforce regardless. In Singapore the recent 2019/20 MAS Enforcement report (which is the second such report, published every 18 months) tells us progress has been made on 2019/20 priorities. These include market abuse, fraudulent and dishonest misconduct, and AML control breaches, and the focus ahead for 2021 is the same, with a particular focus on brokerage houses’ internal controls around market misconduct, and disclosures by listed companies.
In Hong Kong, the big news is that SFC has just published the long-awaited updated FAQ on the use of external EDSP (Electronic Data Storage Providers). I have been working with trade body AIMA behind the scenes, having conversations with SFC providers and market participants large and small since the publication of the original circular last year. So I’m delighted that we now have some published guidance that will help ease the route to practical compliance for a large number of our clients. Please get in touch with the team to discuss next steps.
Finally, a personal note. I am delighted to share that I have adopted a three-year-old boy here in Hong Kong and so I will be taking a short period away from the office to concentrate on looking after my family. I have been humbled by the heart-warming messages of support I have had so far from our clients and friends (and especially the amazing support we have had from local NGO, Mother’s Choice). So for the next few newsletters at least, our head of Singapore office (Billie-Jo) will be stepping in to keep you abreast of regulatory developments. And it goes without saying our excellent Bovill teams in Hong Kong and Singapore will continue to provide support while I am away. I look forward to reconnecting when I return in 2021!
Head of Asia
SFC consults on AML guidelines
The SFC’s financial crime consultation hails a more risk-based approach for Hong Kong firms when it comes to anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism. The proposed amendments, according to the regulator, “align with the latest international standards” and will provide guidance on how to approach measures in “a more risk-sensitive manner”.