MAS to ease regulatory burden on exchanges

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will boost its market surveillance capabilities and reduce the regulatory burden on exchanges, said the central bank's deputy managing director, Mr Ong Chong Tee.

But the Singapore Exchange (SGX) will remain a self-regulatory organisation, responsible for both monitoring its listed members as well as retaining its function to attract listings, added Mr Ong, who was speaking yesterday at the first SGX equities dialogue at the SGX Centre in Shenton Way.

The question of whether the SGX can remain both a profit-driven exchange and a regulator at the same time has been raised, but Mr Ong noted that this idea of the bourse as a self-regulatory organisation is not unique to Singapore. With much work done to enhance the SGX's role around listings, "we believe that SGX - as the only securities exchange in Singapore - remains an appropriate listing authority", he said.

The SGX has boosted its governance standards by raising its listing admission criteria and setting up three independent committees that help assess candidates for SGX listings.

Mr Ong noted that markets have been going through a rough patch in recent months, hurt by fears over China, but added that Singapore remains an attractive financial centre, underpinned by a strong regulatory framework.

To make regulation more efficient, the MAS will minimise overlaps between the supervisory functions of exchanges, like the SGX and ICE Futures, and itself, he added.

The MAS will become the lead regulator for areas such as anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing and operational resilience.

This means the SGX and the Ice Futures exchange, which recently set up shop here, will no longer need to inspect companies that are licensed by the MAS.

The MAS will also boost its market surveillance capabilities and use advanced technology to detect complex patterns for potential market abuses, added Mr Ong.

There will be more help for traders and remisiers as well. The MAS will look at relaxing the rules to make it easier for trading representatives to offer investment advice.

Mr Ong also said the investigation into the penny stock crash on the SGX in 2013 is at an advanced stage but noted that the case is a complex one, involving vast amounts of trade data from more than 500 trading accounts and 20,000 messages.

The Institute of Banking and Finance rolled out a new set of training programmes yesterday that will allow remisiers to upgrade themselves in a structured manner.

But remisier S.H Tan was not impressed, saying he was hoping that the SGX will work on raising interest in the local market.

"Let's not talk about training yet. Markets are down, investors have run away. We hardly have any income, so how are we to survive?" he said.

This article was first published on January 29, 2016.
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