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Joint investigative powers for Singapore’s central bank officers

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) of the Singapore Police Force announced last month that it will jointly investigate market misconduct offenses such as insider trading and market manipulation.

In the past, the two Singapore agencies investigated market misconduct offences independently, with MAS focusing on civil penalties, and CAD on criminal prosecutions.

With joint investigations, MAS and CAD will jointly investigate all potential market misconduct offenses from the outset. The decision on whether a case is subject to civil penalty action or criminal prosecution will be made when investigations are concluded.

The two agencies will also consolidate their investigative resources and expertise, drawing significant synergies from the role of MAS as a financial regulator and CAD’s financial crime investigation and intelligence capabilities. The new arrangement also allows for greater coordination when formulating enforcement policies in the area of market misconduct.

The arrangement will also improve the overall effectiveness of market misconduct investigations. MAS officers taking part in the joint investigations will be gazetted as Commercial Affairs Officers, giving them the same criminal powers of investigation as CAD officers. “Gazetting” is a fast-track legislative tool that gives MAS officers involved in investigating market misconduct the same criminal powers of investigation as CAD officers. Such powers include the ability to search premises and seize items, and to order financial institutions to monitor customer accounts.

The combination has been welcomed by industry experts as giving sharper teeth to MAS, which functions both as Singapore’s central bank, as well as its financial regulator.

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Adrian Tan is a best-selling writer and lawyer. He’s a partner of Morgan Lewis in Singapore. He can be contacted here.

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