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compliance

Hong Kong's Securities and Futures Commission has fined MIS Services Limited, formerly Standard Chartered Investment Services HKD3million for an astonishing breach of regulations: it failed to have in post staff who met the qualifying requirements. The breach is not trivial: it lasted for nine years. It raises questions over the performance of the company, its parent(s) and the regulator.

Clearly there was oversight when there should have been supervision.

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Standard Chartered Bank has been ordered to pay SGD5.2m and Coutts (at the relevant time part of Royal Bank of Scotland) to pay SGD2.4 million for breaches of the Monetary Authority of Singapore's counter-money laundering requirements. It's also a slap in the face for Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib because the penalties arise from compliance failures relating to 1MDB, Najib's flagship project. There is also the minor matter of a Goldman Sachs employee and false statements.

The decision by US messaging service WhatsApp to allow its parent company, Facebook, access to user's data raises enormous questions for compliance and ethics teams in financial institutions, law firms and many other businesses. Should Compliance Officers now ban the use of WhatsApp for both transactional messaging and communications with clients? And should data protection registrars now issue warnings as to the release of client-related data? In fact, should the app now be banned entirely from all mobile devices used in any way for work purposes?

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Carlo V di Florio, Director, Office of Compliance Inspections and Examination at the USA's Securities and Exchange Commission says that compliance and ethics are each an integral part of risk management in all businesses but especially in the financial sector were reputation greatly matters to the individual, to individual businesses to the industry as a whole and, ultimately, to the entire country. He was speaking to the National Society of Compliance Professionals on 17 October 2011.

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Ocean Bank of Miami, Florida, has been issued with penalties by the Federal Deposit Indemnity Corporation, Florida Office of Financial Regulation and FinCEN in respect of a series of breaches of the Bank Secrecy Act and other anti-money laundering laws and regulations. The bank neither admits nor denies the allegations.

The USA's Internal Revenue Service and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) have announced that a small subset of individuals with only signature authority required to file the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBARs) will receive a one-year extension beyond the previously notified filing date of 30 June, 2011.

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Hong Kong's Securities and Futures Commission has severely reprimanded Selina & Co Limited and reprimanded a director who, despite having responsibility for compliance matters, paid only nominal attention to those duties. It's the case that created new resolve at the SFC that compliance failures would no longer be dealt with by reprimand only.

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