On 6 July 2018, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) issued a Consultation Paper which, among other things, proposes requirements for Financial Institutions (FIs) to conduct and respond to reference checks on representatives (Reference Check Consultation Paper). Submissions on the Reference Check Consultation Paper close on 6 August 2018. Continue reading

Singapore’s MAS issues Guide to Digital Token Offerings

On 14 November 2017, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) issued a guide during the first day of the Singapore FinTech Festival to provide general guidance on the application of the securities laws administered by the MAS, namely the Securities and Futures Act (SFA) and the Financial Advisers Act, to offers or issues of digital tokens in Singapore.

This follows the MAS’s clarification on 1 August 2017 that an offer or issue of digital tokens would be regulated if these tokens constitute products which are regulated under the SFA. Our e-bulletin in August 2017 regarding the clarification can be accessed here.

In our recent bulletin, we highlight the key points in the MAS guide and set out our observations. If you wish to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to reach out to our Asia team (the contact details of which are set out in the bulletin) or your usual Herbert Smith Freehills contact.

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP is licensed to operate as a foreign law practice in Singapore. Where advice on Singapore law is required, we will refer the matter to and work with licensed Singapore law practices where necessary.



On 1 August 2017, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) clarified through a media release that an offer or issue of digital tokens would be regulated if these tokens constitute products which are regulated under the Securities and Futures Act (SFA). In doing so, the MAS sent a strong signal that it would focus on the substance of the transaction, even if it is presented within the “cryptocurrency” wrapper.

MAS’ clarification comes in the wake of an increase in the number of initial coin or token offerings (ICOs) in Singapore. In June 2017, it was reported that blockchain startup TenX had raised close to US$80 million from a token sale. A Singapore based startup,, also launched the sale of its own digital currency in May 2017 to fund building of its blockchain-based platform to connect start-ups with investors and experts for funding and advice. Further ICOs are reported to be planned later this year.

This bulletin provides an introduction into ICOs and touches upon some of the market developments and regulatory issues surrounding ICOs and digital tokens. Please click here for more details.

Securities and Futures (Amendment) Bill 2016 moved for second reading

On 9 January 2017, the MAS announced the Second Reading of the Securities and Futures (Amendment) Bill 2016 (Bill) in the Singaporean Parliament. The Bill introduces wide-ranging amendments aimed at strengthening the regulation of over-the-counter derivatives markets, enhancing regulatory safeguards for retail investors, enhancing the credibility and transparency of Singapore capital markets, and strengthening the enforcement regime against market misconduct.

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MAS withdraws second merchant bank status in AML push

In line with its increased commitment to combat money laundering and terrorist financing in Singapore, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has ordered the closure of Falcon Private Bank Ltd, Singapore Branch (Falcon Bank).

On 11 October 2016, the MAS stated that it was withdrawing the merchant bank status of Falcon Bank for serious failures in anti-money laundering (AML) controls and improper conduct by senior management both at Falcon Bank’s Head Office in Switzerland and its Singapore Branch. This was further to the closure of the Singapore branch of an international bank for serious breaches of AML requirements earlier this year (see our e-bulletin of 25 May 2016), and the MAS’s announcement in July 2016 that it was investigating numerous other banks for lapses in AML controls.

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Singapore Exchange seeks greater collaboration with industry around market conduct issues

The Singapore Exchange (SGX) has launched two initiatives that will see member firms collaborating with SGX to act as gatekeepers with respect to market conduct issues. The first initiative is the launch of a Trade Surveillance Handbook (Handbook) to provide a set of guidelines which member firms can incorporate into their surveillance programmes. Secondly, SGX will share more data linked to possible market manipulation with member firms to assist them to enhance their monitoring of and controls around market conduct. Both initiatives signal a move towards greater industry collaboration around market conduct issues in Singapore.

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