Daily Management Review

'Naming And Shaming' A Better Deterrent Than Big Fines, Says MAS On


Justifying its response to the controversial Malaysian fund 1MDB, Singapore’s central bank has said that a stronger signal than levying hefty fines on the banks is sent by publicly "naming and shaming" the individuals responsible for financial misdemeanors in the banks that employ them.
A two-year review of banks connected to the Malaysian wealth fund was completed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) last month. And in what is the heaviest aggregate financial penalties to-date in the country, for violating anti-money laundering requirements the authority fined eight banks nearly 30 million Singapore dollars ($21.7 million).
But in comparison to what the authorities in United States and Europe imposed for such offences, the amount of fine imposed on those banks is quite small. 
"What do we want these fines to achieve? Increasingly, the MAS' approach is to pin responsibility on the individuals who made the mistakes, who are responsible for the lapses and their supervisors," Ravi Menon, MAS managing director, said.
"When you fine a bank billions of dollars, it hurts basically shareholders and other stakeholders. It doesn't hurt the board and senior management, and it doesn't hurt the individuals much. And that is what, in my view, one of the failings of the current regime globally that people continue to do wrong things because they've not been held personally liable and responsible."
A key highlight in the central bank’s annual report that was released on Thursday was MAS' investigation into 1MDB fund flows. The authority also barred several individuals from participating in the Singapore finance industry in addition to penalizing the banks.
There are allegations that million had flowed from the debt-ridden 1MDB into the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak's personal bank account and Singapore is among at least six countries that have launched probes into those allegations. Najib has already been cleared of offences by Malaysian authorities ad and has repeatedly denied any form of wrongdoing.
The MAS is prepared to re-open the files again should there be any relevant new information or leads, even though MAS had completed its review, Menon said. the commitment for upholding the integrity of its finance sector, a key component of the economy, by the city-state is underscored by this statement.
In the latest filing in the U.S. Department of Justice, the MAS found nothing new that warranted further action, he added.
"Last year, I said that the findings on the 1MDB-related transactions that flowed through here had made a dent in our reputation as a clean and trusted financial centre. I believe we have begun the process of restoring that reputation," Menon said.

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