Photographer: Sam Kang Li/Bloomberg

Singapore Court Imposes Bigger Penalties in Share-Trading Case

  • Monetary Authority sought to at least double sums involved
  • Regulator sees policy need to deter unauthorized stock trades

The Monetary Authority of Singapore secured bigger penalties for a divorced couple’s unauthorized share trading.

The regulator had appealed a lower court’s decision which ordered Wang Boon Heng and his ex-wife to pay S$75,000 ($55,000) and S$50,000 respectively for flouting the city’s share trading rules. MAS sought at least double the initial penalties, sums which the duo’s lawyer Robert Raj called excessive.

Singapore High Court Justice See Kee Oon ordered the amount for Wang to be raised to S$150,000 and for his ex-wife to S$75,000. See said the new figures would be sufficient to deter like-minded individuals from committing similar violations.

The case illustrates Singapore’s efforts in cracking down on misconduct in its finance industry. MAS Managing Director Ravi Menon reiterated earlier this month that the regulator is “extra watchful” following the city’s largest money laundering probe related to a Malaysian state investment fund.

There is a policy need to deter unauthorized share trading, and Wang’s wrongdoing was similar to methods used in insider trading and market rigging cases, MAS’s lawyer Vincent Leow had argued. The regulator can seek as much as S$2 million in penalties under the city’s civil penalty regime.

Singapore introduced the civil penalty regime in 2004 to provide a more flexible approach in dealing with breaches of market rules. Such cases are usually resolved after admissions of contraventions or settled out of court.

The 2013 lawsuit against Wang and his ex-wife Foo Jee Chin claimed that Wang used his former spouse and driver’s trading accounts without the consent of the brokerage firms. The driver was let off with a warning.

The case is Monetary Authority of Singapore v Wang Boon Heng, DAC6/2017.

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