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8 July 2009

Singapore bans firms from selling structured notes

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The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the city-state’s central bank, has, for the first time, imposed bans on the sale of structured notes by 10 financial institutions (FIs) which had distributed toxic structured notes linked to the collapsed US financial institution Lehman Brothers, reported Channel News Asia on its website.

The bans took effect on July 1 and will remain in place until MAS is satisfied there are adequate measures to address the findings of its investigation into the sale of the failed structured products last year.

The 10 FIs are ABN Amro Bank, CIMB-GK Securities, DBS Bank, DMG and Partners Securities, Hong Leong Finance, Kim Eng Securities, Maybank, OCBC Securities, Philip Securities and UOB Kay Hian.

MAS revealed this as it released the findings of its investigations into the sale of the failed structured products last year.

The regulator found that the 10 FIs had policies, procedures and controls in place for the sale and marketing of the structured notes, but the extent of due diligence and level of internal controls differed among them.

As a result, MAS said there were various forms of non-compliance with its notices and guidelines on the sale and marketing of these investment products.

MAS said some of the specific failings included insufficient steps taken by some FIs to ensure that all their financial advisory representatives were properly trained before marketing and selling these products.

The regulator also noted that some FIs had assigned risk ratings to the products that were inconsistent with risk warnings stated in the prospectus and pricing statement.

According to MAS, there were also weaknesses in how some FIs ensured that their sales representatives were properly equipped with accurate and complete information about the structured notes.

As a preventive measure, the regulator said FIs must rectify all weaknesses identified in the investigations, appoint an external person identified by MAS to review action plans and report on implementation, and appoint senior management staff to oversee compliance with MAS' direction.

MAS said that until it is satisfied with the measures put in place, the FIs will not be able to distribute structured notes.

MAS also gave details about how the FIs have compensated investors who bought structured notes.

Hong Leong Finance paid S$57.6 million to 2,048 investors who bought the structured notes that it distributed. This is the highest amount of compensation paid out to retail investors. Hong Leong Finance is also barred from selling structured notes for two years.

Maybank offered S$25.3 million to 1,100 investors, while ABN Amro paid 262 investors S$14.1 million. DBS Bank compensated 197 investors S$7.6 million. The three banks will be banned from selling structured notes for six months.

According to MAS, the total settlements for decided cases amounted to S$105 million.

The six brokerage firms, which also sold the structured notes, paid a total of S$2.74 million to 297 investors. UOB Kay Hian and DMG & Partners will get a six-month ban, while the others will be barred from selling structured notes for a year each.

[Monetary Authority of Singapore, MAS sales bans on structured notes, financial institutions hit by ban, Singapore financial institutions]

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), the city-state’s central bank, has imposed bans on the sale of structured notes by 10 financial institutions (FIs).


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