SINGAPORE: The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) on Wednesday (Apr 27) gave an update on major investigations involving ongoing high-profile cases such as Noble Group and Hyflux, as part of efforts to provide greater transparency.
The updates were included in the authority’s latest enforcement report, in which it highlighted the strong enforcement actions taken against financial institutions and individuals for breaches of laws and regulations administered by MAS.
The inclusion of case updates comes in response to investor and industry feedback, said MAS, adding that it will balance the public’s interest in obtaining information against the need to protect the integrity of investigations and any pending court proceedings.
According to the report, MAS imposed S$2.4 million in composition penalties for anti-money laundering and countering financing of terrorism breaches between July 2020 and December 2021, as well as S$150,000 in civil penalties. Twenty prohibition orders were also issued against unfit representatives, it said.
MAS, together with the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC), also secured the criminal convictions of seven individuals for market misconduct or related offences.
The report also highlighted some of its enforcement priorities for the 2022/2023 period, including studying options to enhance investors’ recourse for losses due to securities market misconduct.
It is also looking at enhancing effectiveness in pursuing breaches of corporate disclosure requirements, including through close collaboration with key regulatory and enforcement partners.
In addition, it plans to step up focus on corporate finance advisory firms and fund management companies that fail to comply with business conduct requirements and strengthening focus on holding senior managers accountable for breaches by their financial institutions or subordinates.
In the report, it said the investigation into Noble Group and its wholly owned subsidiary Noble Resources International are at “an advanced stage”.
In November 2018, investigations began into Noble Group for suspected disclosures-related offences under the Securities and Futures Act, while Noble Resources International was suspected of potential breaches of the Companies Act.
MAS and the Singapore Exchange Regulation (SGX Regco) decided in December the same year not to allow Noble Group to transfer its listing status to a new entity as part of its proposed restructuring.
“This followed a review which found that there were significant uncertainties about the financial position of the restructured entity,” MAS said.
The authority said it has reviewed “voluminous documentation” obtained from both Noble Group and Noble Resources International, as well as sought advice from industry experts. It also “sought the assistance of foreign regulators to obtain information from relevant foreign-based individuals”.
It added that authorities aim to reach a conclusion on this matter in the third quarter of the year.
MAS also gave an update on the Hyflux case, in which the company, its current and former directors were investigated for possible offences under the SFA, as well as non-compliance with accounting standards under the Companies Act.
The investigation “stemmed from a review of Hyflux’s disclosure, accounting and auditing issues concerning the Tuaspring Integated Water and Power project”.
Authorities have obtained and reviewed accounting and other corporate records from Hyflux, as well as its subsidiary Tuaspring. They have also interviewed the company’s directors, key officers and public accountants.
Additionally, they have sought advice from industry experts on its investigation findings. They are currently working closely with the AGC to review the evidence, said MAS.
"The review is an extensive exercise covering the announcements and financial statements issued by Hyflux over a period of eight years between 2011 and 2018," said the regulator.
Other investigations under way are those involving Eagle Hospitality Trust and Hui Xun Asset Management.