HKMA to monitor industry’s progress in preparing for transition from IBORs to ARRs

In a circular issued to authorised institutions (AIs) on 23 October 2019, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) indicated that it will conduct a regular survey to collect information on AIs’ exposures referencing interbank offered rates (IBORs) and their progress in preparing for transition to alternative reference rates (ARRs). Depending on the survey results, the HKMA will take appropriate follow up action.

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Corporate Crime update – Autumn 2019

Welcome to the Autumn 2019 edition of our corporate crime update – our round up of developments in relation to corruption, money laundering, fraud, sanctions and related matters. This bumper edition covers a number of jurisdictions, and includes content from the summer break.

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Hong Kong SFC publishes licensing conditions for virtual asset fund managers

On 4 October 2019, the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) published proforma terms and conditions which will apply to virtual asset fund managers that meet specified criteria.

This follows the SFC’s statement of 1 November 2018 regarding the regulatory framework for virtual asset fund managers, fund distributors and trading platform operators (see our e-bulletin of 2 November 2018 for further details), in which the SFC indicated (among other things) that it would impose terms and conditions on certain virtual asset fund managers.

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Be on the mark – APAC central banks release study of benchmark reform implications

On 24 September 2019, the Executives’ Meeting of East Asia-Pacific Central Banks (EMEAP) published its study on the implications of benchmark reform across the East Asia and Pacific region (Study), including the effects of LIBOR discontinuation, the EU Benchmarks Regulation (BMR) and the ongoing reform of local benchmarks.

The Study provides important insight into market participants’ varying levels of awareness of and preparedness for benchmark reform, as well as valuable guidance as to future regulatory developments we are likely to see from regulators keen to ensure regional markets are well equipped to handle these reforms. The Study also refers extensively to Herbert Smith Freehills’ market-leading work on the BMR with ASIFMA.

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Hong Kong SFC consults on new type 13 regulated activity to regulate depositories of public funds

Last Friday, the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) launched a consultation on proposals to regulate depositaries (trustees and custodians) of SFC-authorised collective investment schemes (CISs) which are offered to the public in Hong Kong. Responses are required to be submitted by 31 December 2019.

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The new regulatory regime for insurance intermediaries in Hong Kong – are you ready for 23 September 2019?

On 23 September 2019, the new statutory regime for the regulation of insurance intermediaries will take effect.

This represents the final stage of implementation of the insurance reforms which established the Insurance Authority (IA) as Hong Kong’s independent insurance regulator. The IA assumed the regulatory responsibilities of the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance in June 2017 and will take over the regulation of insurance intermediaries (agents and brokers) from the three self-regulatory organisations (SROs) on 23 September 2019. On the same day, the requirements relating to the intermediary management function, one of the control functions of an authorised insurer, will also come into effect.

The IA will be responsible for all aspects of regulation of insurance intermediaries, including issuing rules, codes and guidelines, approving licences, monitoring compliance, conducting inspections and investigations, and imposing disciplinary sanctions where breaches have occurred.

In the lead-up to 23 September 2019, authorised insurers and insurance intermediaries should conduct a final review (if they have not already done so) to ensure that they are ready to comply with all relevant requirements under the new regime.

In this e-bulletin, we provide an overview of the new rules, codes and guidelines which will apply under the new regime, as well as the transitional arrangements relating to licensing, approval of key persons in the intermediary management control function, and ongoing complaint and disciplinary cases.

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Herbert Smith Freehills launches updated guide to cross-border financial services investigations

Financial services firms conduct their business activities across markets and borders, often performing services and holding data in locations other than those in which they interact with their clients.  Over a decade after the financial crisis, their regulators remain under sustained public and political pressure to improve customer outcomes and punish poor conduct.  When issues arise, those regulators frequently need to seek assistance from their global counterparts to be able to unravel what has occurred, irrespective of where it took place.

Understanding how and when regulators interact with each other and with firms across borders, how firms are required, or expected, to respond, and how to handle multiple proceedings in different jurisdictions, is more critical than ever.

This fourth edition of “The Long Arm of Regulation: Responding to Cross-Border Financial Services Investigations”, Herbert Smith Freehills’ guide to cross-border financial services investigations, gives an overview of how to approach these issues, and aims to assist firms in navigating the differing regimes across 15 key jurisdictions, including, for the first time in this edition, South Africa. The guide covers a range of important topics, including the regulators’ breadth of powers, mechanisms for obtaining – and withholding – information, consequences for failing to comply, and the management of competing confidentiality and reporting obligations.

In producing this publication, we have drawn on the expertise of our financial services regulation practice across our international network of offices and through our formal alliance with Prolegis (Singapore). In addition, we are enormously grateful for contributions from law firms Anderson Mori & Tomotsune (Japan), Stibbe (the Netherlands) and Homburger (Switzerland).

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FATF and APG publish long-awaited mutual evaluation report on Hong Kong

Following the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering’s inspection of Hong Kong in October and November 2018, their much anticipated Mutual Evaluation Report (Report) on Hong Kong was published on 4 September 2019. Our previous bulletin on 25 June 2019 gave early insights into the expected findings.

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