The regulator advised that, with a financial sector that comprises more than 1,500 financial institutions of varying sizes and systemic importance, it is simply not possible to prevent regulatory breaches and misconduct even with intrusive supervision.
The new division will enable the regulator to take swift action to establish culpability and punish, as appropriate, institutions and/or individuals found to have breached MAS’s regulations.
It will continue to jointly investigate capital markets misconduct offences with the Commercial Affairs Department, as well as assuming responsibility for enforcement actions arising from regulatory breaches of MAS’s banking, insurance, and capital markets regulations.
Anti-money laundering (AML)
The regulator also announced that it will form a dedicated AML department, intended to streamline the existing responsibilities for regulatory policies relating to money laundering and other illicit financing risks.
While confident that it has a robust regime already in place to protect the integrity of Singapore’s financial system, "the increasing complexities of transnational flows necessitates heightened supervisory focus on combatting money laundering and other illicit financing activities", the regulator advised.
"As our financial centre grows in scale, sophistication, and connectivity, so does the risk of criminal elements abusing our financial system."
A dedicated supervisory team will be set up to monitor these risks and carry out onsite supervision of how financial institutions manage AML risks.
Ravi Menon, managing director of MAS, said: "As our financial centre grows in scale, sophistication, and connectivity, so does the risk of criminal elements abusing our financial system. We will strengthen our supervision of financial institutions’ controls to combat money laundering and illicit financing.
“And we will enhance our enforcement capability to deter poor controls or criminal behaviour in the industry. MAS is resolved to ensure that Singapore remains a clean and trusted financial centre.”