Friday 17 April 2015

Is the MAS really tightening the rules?

The MAS last week moved the MAS Bill for first reading in parliament. Comments all around suggest that the rules are being tightened but is that really true on closer inspection? Let’s have a look.
First of all, MAS has up till now issued AML/CFT notices which are not primary legislation. The MAS Bill corrects that, but of course it will hardly make the life of the average FI more difficult.
Secondly the AML/CFT regime is extended to stored value facilities, non-bank card issuers and designated financial holding companies. So that’s not really a tightening of the regulations but more extending the reach.
The third element is about sharing more information with more external parties. This is mostly applicable to branches and subsidiaries of foreign FI’s and means that information can be shared with home financial and AML/CFT supervisors (if these are not the same).
Finally it sets out requirements for FI’s to perform CDD and retain CDD records, which is hardly anything new.
Time will tell. The MAS Bill will definitively have an impact but perhaps not as much as feared.