Regional Round-Up

Your Snapshot of Key Legal Developments in Asia

Issue 2 - Apr/May/Jun 2016


      LAO PDR


              Royal Kram No. NS/RKM/1516/007 promulgating the Law on Trade Union dated 17 May 2016
              To complete the gaps in the Labour Law which was adopted since 1997, the National Assembly has finally adopted the Law on Trade Union. This law aims to provide for the rights and freedoms of enterprises, establishments, and all persons subjected to the Labour Law as well as personnel serving in air and maritime transportation. 

              This law also sets out provisions with regard to the organization and the function of the professional organizations of workers and employers in Cambodia.

              In comparison with the Labour Law, this law addresses some changes such as the eligibility conditions for staff representatives/shop stewards, and the obligation of enterprises employing eight employees or more to arrange an election of staff representative/shop stewards after three months of the enterprise's operation.

              However, the rights to collective bargaining between workers and employers, the special protection against the termination of the employment contracts of staff representatives, union leaders and other personnel are assured under this new law.

              In addition, this new law also determines the different sanctions for the breach of various provisions, ranging from a fine up to KHR 10,000,000(approximately US$2,500) for illegal lock-out committed by Union of Employers, to KHR 5,000,000 (approximately US$1,250) for other sanctions.

              Singapore and Cambodia : Agreement on the Avoidance of Double Taxation
              On 20 May 2016, the Government of the Republic of Singapore and the Royal Government of Cambodia signed a bilateral agreement for the avoidance of double taxation and the prevention of fiscal evasion with respect to taxes on income ("Agreement"). This is the first bilateral agreement that Cambodia has entered into to move towards the ASEAN Economic Community since its launch in December 2015. However, this Agreement has not been ratified by the two signatory states yet.

              This Agreement was entered into to promote bilateral cooperation, capital flow, sharing of technology and expertise and for tax certainty and avoidance of double taxation. As a result of the lower barriers for cross-border investments, we expect to see an increase in trade and investment flow between the two-countries.

              The Agreement shall apply to persons who are residents of one or both of the contracting states and it applies to taxes on income, which are taxes imposed on total income, or on elements of income, including taxes on gains from the alienation of movable or immovable property, and taxes on the total amounts of wages or salaries paid by enterprises, imposed on behalf of a contracting state or local authorities, irrespective of the manner in which they are levied.

              After the ratification of this Agreement, the contracting states shall work together to mutually agree on a standard procedures, cooperative in exchanging information and strictly respect the non-discrimination principle.

              Sub-Decree No. 72 SD.P on Management of Mineral Resource Exploration License and Industrial Mining License dated 5 May 2016
              In order to control the mineral resource operations in Cambodia, the Royal Government of Cambodia issued the Sub-Decree No. 72 SD.P on Management of Mineral Resources Exploration License and Industrial Mining License, which determines the procedures, processes and conditions related to the request for and issuance of licenses for exploration and industrial mining, as well as the rights and obligations of the mineral resource exploiters.

              An exploration license is valid for a period of three years, renewable for two terms; provided that each term cannot exceed two years. An industrial mining license is valid for 21 years and renewable for two terms; provided that each term cannot exceed ten years, save for exceptional circumstances.

              The licensee is required to operate the activity in accordance with the terms and conditions determined by the license and with the provisions of this Sub-Decree. This Sub-Decree also sets out reporting obligations for the licensees. The license may be revoked if the licensee fails to comply with the obligations set out by the Sub-Decree.

              As a result of the issuance of this Sub-Decree, any enterprises holding any license or mineral resource investment agreement before the issuance of this Sub-Decree is required to submit a letter to Minister of Mines and Energy for a new license or the amendment of the investment agreement no later than 180 days after the date of this Sub-Decree (5 May 2016).

              Prakas No. 186 MOC.IP.P on Procedures to Record Imported Goods Bearing Exclusive Trademarks dated 31 May 2016
              On 31 May 2016, the Ministry of Commerce ("MOC") issued a new Prakas on the procedures to register an exclusive distributorship with the Department of Intellectual Property Rights ("DIPR").

              According to the Prakas, all previous approval letters issued by MOC before 31 May 2016 on exclusive distributorships, which do not provide for a specified validity period, will become null and void from 30 June 2016 onwards. These distribution agreements must be re-registered.

              It is, however, important to note that the Prakas only applies to: (i) goods that bear a trademark registered in Cambodia; (ii) genuine and non-counterfeit goods; and (iii) new goods. Second hand goods, pharmaceutical products and prohibited goods are not allowed to bear exclusive trademark rights or to be registered for exclusive distributorship at DIPR.

              Under this new regulation, the approval letter on exclusive distributorship shall be valid for a period of two years, subject to renewal within three months before expiry date. Upon approval, the trademark owner or distributor shall immediately publish the approval letter on the front page of any well-known newspapers for at least three consecutive issues.

              Prakas No. 495 MEF on the Implementation of VAT on the Supply of Unprocessed Agricultural Products dated 6 April 2016
              In order to support the Royal Government of Cambodia's rice export policy and to decrease the cost of the use of Unprocessed Agriculture Products, the Ministry of Economy and Finance has issued Prakas No. 495MEF dated 06 April 2016 on the implementation of Value Added Tax ("VAT") for the Supply of Unprocessed Agricultural Products. 

              Under this Prakas, "Unprocessed Agricultural Products" refers to any grinded or non-grinded and unprocessed products of agriculture such as tree tuber, roots, tree bark, fruit, flowers or plain seeds cultivated from the farm. "Supply" means any act of selling, direct using, donation or selling for lower value, importing into any customs checkpoint area of Unprocessed Agricultural Products by any taxable person in Cambodia or so called "Self-Assessment" taxpayers.

              Pursuant to this Prakas and the Sub-Decree No. 55MEF dated 30 March 2016 on the Amendment of Article 56 of Sub-Decree No. 114 dated 24 December 1999 on VAT, the supply of Unprocessed Agricultural Products by self-assessment taxpayers in Cambodia will be considered as non-taxable supply which is exempted from VAT.

              Prakas No. B14-016-147 on Membership of Fast and Central Shared Switch System dated 19 May 2016
              This Prakas is for the purpose of providing a faster, more effective and secured retail payment for customers of banking services in Cambodia. This Prakas covers all commercial banks and microfinance deposit taking institutions ("Institutions").

              Under this Prakas, Fast and Secure Transfers ("
              FAST") is a retail payment system that facilitates immediate payment transactions between its members. However, such transactions must be made in Khmer Riel.

              Central Shared Switch System is a central system for networking the Automated Teller Machine ("
              ATM") and Electronic Fund Transfer Point of Sale ("EFTPOS") between Institutions members.

              All Institutions are obliged to participate as a member of the FAST system before 1 January 2017 and Central Shared Switch before 1 January 2018. Furthermore, all Institutions shall prepare a core banking system and an appropriate infrastructure to connect with the FAST and Central Shared Switch System.

              Prakas No.B7.016.117P on Minimum Registered Capital of Banking and Financial Institutions dated 22 March 2016
              As the banking and financial sector of the Kingdom of Cambodia has gradually improved in the last decades, the National Bank of Cambodia ("NBC") recently set out new minimum requirements for registered capital for all banks and micro-finance institutions licensed by the NBC to operate in Cambodia.

              On 22 March 2016, the new Prakas No.B7.016.117P on New Determination of Minimum Registered Capital for Banking and Financial Institutions in Cambodia was issued by the NBC. The NBC has clearly determined and classified the new requirements as follows:

              • Commercial banks which are the branch of a foreign bank having its investment-grade rated by an International Credit Rating Agency must have a minimum registered capital of KHR 200,000,000,000 (approximately US$50,000,000);
              • Commercial banks which are the branch of a foreign bank which does not have its investment-grade rated by an International Credit Rating Agency must have a minimum registered capital of KHR 300,000,000,000 (approximately US$75,000,000);
              • Commercial banks which are the local banks or a subsidiary of a foreign bank, must have a minimum registered capital of KHR 300,000,000,000 (approximately US$75,000,000);
              • Specialized banks which are being the local banks must have a minimum registered capital of KHR 60,000,000,000 (approximately US$15,000,000);
              • Deposit-taking microfinance institutions must have a minimum registered capital of KHR 120,000,000,000 (approximately US$30,000,000); and
              • Microfinance institutions must have a minimum registered capital of KHR 6,000,000,000 (approximately US$1,500,000).
              After this new determination, all banking and financial institutions mentioned above must comply with the new requirements set out above within two years from the date of the Prakas.
              Circular No. B7-016-003 on Implementation of Prakas on Minimum Registered Capital of Banking and Financial Institutions dated 16 June 2016
              The NBC has recently issued a Prakas determining new minimum registered capital for banking and financial institutions in Cambodia. Thus, in order to provide an effective implementation of that Prakas, the NBC has issued this Circular B7-016-003 dated 16 June 2016.

              In accordance with this Circular, the NBC has referred the minimum registered capital of all banks and financial institution to the Prakas No. B7-016-117 P on the Minimum Registered Capital of Banking and Financial Institution dated 22 March 2016 and has clarified on certain points that the Prakas did not mention such as the investment grade, deadline to fulfil this requirement, documentation to provide and the suggestions on how to meet this requirement.

              With regards to the investment grade of a foreign bank, the NBC states that it shall be provided by any of these International Credit Rating Agencies, being Moody's Investor Services, Standard & Poor's, Fitch or other independent international agencies recognized by the NBC. The investment grade shall be any grade which is equal to or better than the following:

              • Baa3 of Moody's Investor Service;
              • BBB- of Standard & Poor's and;
              • BBB- of Fitch.
              Moreover, this Circular also requires all banks and financial institutions to meet at least half of the new minimum registered capital by the end of March 2017 and in full by 22 March 2018.

              The NBC also suggests some mechanisms for all banks and financial institutions in order to fulfil this new capital requirement such as seeking other potential investors, merging with other banks or financial institutions, converting the form of the institution, or voluntarily dissolving itself.

              Notification No. 127 MLVT/A on Re-Registration of Employees with the National Social Security Fund dated 2 May 2016
              Cambodia's Social Security Scheme, in force since 2008, is being implemented by the National Social Security Fund ("NSSF") in two steps: (i) Employment Injury and (ii) Health Care and Pension Scheme. However, there are many cases where employees have been registered at the NSSF with incorrect information, causing problems in benefit claims for employment injury, and potentially disrupting the implementation of the newly enacted Health Care Scheme and the future coming Pension Scheme.

              Therefore, the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has issued a Notification No.127MLVT/A dated 2 May 2016, calling to all owners and chairmen of entities subject to the Labour Law to re-register any of their employees having incorrect information with the NSSF.

              This Notification specifies that the re-registration with the NSSF is free of charge. Furthermore, the employees shall not be considered to be at fault for previously providing incorrect information and the employer shall not be accused of child labour abuses if their employees were registered with the wrong identity. The Notification also requires all entities to ask for the identity card or passport, birth certificate, residential certificate, etc. when recruiting new employees.

              Instruction No. 8726 GDT on Implementation of Stamp Duty Tax on Transfer of Ownership or Possessory Rights of Immovable Property dated 14 June 2016
              Stamp duty tax on transfer of immovable property is created under the Law on Financial Management in 2010. Recently, the General Department of Taxation ("GDT") has issued the above mentioned Instruction No. 8726 GDT in order to illustrate the implementation of the provisions in relation to the stamp duty on the transfer of ownership or possessory rights of registered and non-registered immovable property.

              Under this Instruction, the transfer of any or all parts of ownership or possessory rights of a registered immovable property, having the certificate of title, and the non-registered immovable property will be subject to a stamp duty with a rate of 4% of the value of the immovable property, determined by the GDT based on the market value of such property on the day of the transfer.

              Moreover, the Instruction also emphasizes the procedure of the payment of the stamp duty for the non-registered immovable property and such immovable property which has already been transferred many times from one owner to another (where such transfer(s) occurred before 2 February 2016). In the event there is a first time registration or another transfer, the stamp duty tax will only apply to the last transfer.

              In addition, the stamp duty tax is exempted for the following cases:

              • the receipt of ownership or possession on a land concession of private state owned land from the Royal Government of Cambodia for the benefit of economy and social purpose;
              • the receipt of ownership or possession on immovable property which is registered in the inventory list of any institutions of Cambodia;
              • the receipt of an ownership or possession on immovable property for diplomatic missions or foreign consulates or international organization or any technical corporation agency of any governments;
              • the receipt of an ownership or possession as a succession between parent and child; between spouses; and between grandparent and grandchild; and as from first time donation between father or mother and child; between spouses; and between grandparent and grandchild.
              Meanwhile, deduction from the bases for calculation of stamp duty tax is allowed as follows:

              • In the event of succession between siblings and between parent-in-law and child-in-law, the deductible amount shall be KHR 200,000,000 (approximately US$50,000);
              • In the event of donation between the above, the deductible amount shall be KHR 100,000,000 (approximately US$25,000); and
              • In the event of the above transfer from the second time and being the donation between parent and child; between spouses; and between grandparent and grandchild, the deductible amount shall be KHR 100,000,000 (approximately US$25,000).



              Government Issues Revised Negative Investment List
              The Government recently revised its Negative Investment List to permit foreign direct investment ("FDI") for the first time in several sectors whilst increasing the FDI limits in others. The 2016 Negative Investment List is set out in Presidential Regulation No. 44 of 2016 and came into force on 18 May 2016.

              The main impetus behind the revision of the Negative Investment List is to enhance Indonesia’s economic competitiveness in the ASEAN Economic Community ("
              AEC") by attracting greater FDI inflows into sectors that were either completely or partially closed to foreign investment.

              Click here to read our client update on this.

              Ministry of Transportation Moves to Regulate App-based Transportation Service Providers
              As a response to large-scale protests by taxi drivers in March, the Ministry of Transportation has issued Regulation No. PM 32 of 2016 on Unscheduled Public Transportation Services ("Regulation"). The new Regulation, which was issued on 1 April 2016 and comes into force on 1 October 2016, addresses, among other things, the different types of unscheduled public transportation service (penyelenggaraan angkutan orang dengan kendaraan bermotor umum tidak dalam trayek), the rights and obligations of public transportation companies and, very specifically, the role of app-based transportation service providers ("ATSPs") in providing transportation services.  

              here to read our client update on the key features of the Regulation, with a focus on the relevant provisions relating to ATSPs.
              New Rules on OTT Services in the Offing
              On 29 April 2016, the Minister of Communications and Informatics launched a public consultation on a draft regulation on the provision of content and /or application services over the Internet (the "Draft Regulation").  The Draft Regulation is a follow-up to Minister of Communications and Informatics Circular No. 3 of 2016 on the Provision of Content and /or Application Services over the Internet (Over the Top or "OTT"), which was issued on 31 March 2016.

              Initially, the public consultation period for the Draft Regulation was due to end on 9 May 2016. However, according to a press release published on the official website of the Ministry of Communications and Informatics, it was extended to 26 May 2016. Assegaf Hamzah & Partners has submitted its views to the ministry as part of the consultation process. 

              here to read our client update on the key features of the Draft Regulation.
              Credit Card Issuers Now Required to Divulge Customer Data to Revenue Authorities
              As part of the Government's efforts to raise the tax ratio and boost tax revenues, the Minister of Finance issued Regulation No. 39/PMK.03/2016 (on Tax Data and Information, and Procedures for Furnishing Tax Data and Information / "New Regulation"), which came into force on 23 March 2016. 

              The New Regulation requires a total of 23 Indonesia-based credit-card issuers to report a wide range of information on customer transactions to the Directorate General of Taxes (as the Indonesian Revenue Service is known), including information on such things as transaction details, dates, values and locations. This marks the first time that credit-card issuers in Indonesia have been required to provide such information to the Directorate General of Taxes. 

              here to read our client update on the New Regulation.
              More Manufacturers to Get Tax Breaks
              Government Regulation No. 18 of 2015 (on Income-Tax Concessions for Investments in Particular Sectors and/or Regions) has been amended by Government Regulation No. 9 of 2016. The new regulation, which entered into force on 30 April 2016, accords tax breaks to five additional business fields: (1) garment manufacturing using textiles as raw material; (2) garment manufacturing using leather as raw material; (3) manufacturing of casual footwear; (4) manufacturing of sports footwear; and (5) manufacturing of industrial-safety footwear. 
              New Legislation Provides Improved Framework for Managing Financial Shocks
              Law No. 9 of 2016 on the Prevention and Control of Financial-System Crises, which came into force on 15 April 2016, establishes an enhanced legal framework through which the financial-sector authorities can take the necessary measures to prevent or respond to a financial crisis. The legislation mandates the setting up of a Financial System Stability Committee ("KSSK"), and sets out detailed rules governing the prevention and control measures that may be taken in times of financial vulnerability. In addition, the Financial Services Authority ("OJK"), in conjunction with Bank Indonesia, is required to prepare a list of systemically-important banks. 

              The legislation is designed to avoid a repeat of the long-running controversy that resulted from the bailing out and nationalization of Bank Century during the 2008 financial crisis.

              Environment Ministry Issues Regulation on Forest Fires
              The Environment and Forestry Ministry has issued Regulation No. P.32/MENLHK/SETJEN/KUM.1/3/2016 on the Control of Forest and Land Fires. The Regulation, which comes into force on 18 April 2016, updates the guidelines for the control of forest fires, covering: (i) the organisations that must be established at a governmental and management level in order to monitor and ensure the implementation of various measures relating to forest fires; (ii) quantity and quality standards related to human resources and facilities / infrastructure for the control of forest-fires; and (3) activities that must be undertaken to control the threat of forest fires, including planning, prevention, countermeasures, post-fire activities, work coordination, and determination of alert status).
              Ministry of Trade Acts to Speed up Licensing
              In line with the Government's efforts to reduce bureaucratic delays, Minister of Trade Regulation No. 14/M-DAG/PER/3/2016, which amends Regulation No. 77/M-DAG/PER/12/2013 (on the Simultaneous Issuance of Trading Licenses / "SIUP" and Company Registration Certificates / "TDP" for Trading Companies), sets faster processing times for the issuance of SIUP and TDP. The two documents must now be issued within two business days of a completed application being received. If an application is deemed incomplete, then a rejection letter must be issued within one business day of the original application being received. The regulation came into force on 2 March 2016.
              Government Issues New Rules on Labour Unions in Special Economic Zones
              In response to the continuing threat of labour unrest in the country's special economic development zones, Minister of Employment Regulation No. 8 of 2016 (on the Establishment of Labour Unions and Labour-Union Forums in Undertakings Located in Special Economic Zones) sets out rules governing the recognition of labour unions in special economic zones and mandates the establishment of labour union forums where more than one labour union is organised in a particular undertaking. In order for a labour union to be recognised, it must be registered with the Local Government Manpower Agency. The regulation came into force on 8 March 2016.

              LAO PDR

              Many Rural Communities Oblivious of Fisheries Law
              Rural people's difficulty in accessing information in relation to the Law on Fisheries is one of the reasons for the continued use in many provinces of illegal fishing techniques such as using electric shock equipment.

              This prompted the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry ("
              Ministry") to develop a plan to encourage people to conserve fisheries in the target provinces of Vientiane, Borikhamxay, Khammuan, Savannakhet, Saravan, Xekong, Attapeu, Champassak and the Vientiane capital. The Ministry intends to publicize correct information about the fisheries law, and strengthen local leadership and communities in pointing the people to the right fishing techniques while fostering fishery conservation. 

              The Law on Fisheries focuses on reducing illegal fishing in the country. It specifies the principles, regulations and measures governing: (i) the organisation, implementation, management, and inspection of fisheries work; (ii) the promotion of aquaculture; and (iii) the conservation, protection, development and sustainable exploitation of aquatic fauna to ensure the provision of fish and other aquatic fauna as a food source for all Lao people.


              Amendment to the Gas Supply Act 1993
              On 14 June 2016, Senate passed the Gas Supply (Amendment) Bill 2016. The key change to the law is the introduction of the third party access framework, where third parties will be allowed to bring in liquefied natural gas into Malaysia. It has been a long standing criticism that the gas industry has been monopolized by two industry players who are Gas Malaysia Berhad, the only entity that is licensed by the Energy Commission under the Gas Supply Act 1993 to supply and sell reticulated natural gas in Malaysia, and Petronas Gas Berhad, the owner and operator of transmission pipelines and regasification terminals in Peninsular Malaysia. The introduction of the third party access framework is set to enhance competition in the natural gas supply industry. The 2016 Bill also introduces a new Part VIA (General Competition Practices) and a Gas Competition Appeal Tribunal to regulate competition practices in the natural gas supply industry. For example, the 2016 Bill introduces a prohibition of any horizontal or vertical agreement which has the object or effect of significantly preventing, restricting or distorting competition in the market.

              This brings clarity on the applicability of competition law to the gas industry, and is in line with the provisions of the Competition Act 2010 ("
              CA 2010")‎. The status of the industry was previously unclear given that only activities under the Petroleum Development Act 1974 were expressly excluded from the provisions of the CA 2010.

              The 2016 Bill also introduces new licenses which requires the approval of the relevant Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department ("
              Minister") and new licenses which the Energy Commission ("EC") is authorised to grant without first obtaining the Minister's approval. Under the 2016 Bill, the Minister's approval is required for licenses involving high cost infrastructure such as regasification terminals, transmission and distribution pipelines where else the EC will be authorised to issue licenses for activities such as the importation of natural gas into regasification terminals, shipping, retail and the use of natural gas. The explanatory note to the 2016 Bill states licenses issued by the EC only without the requirement of the Minister's approval, are so because these licenses do not involve high cost of asset and are large in number as well as renewable on an annual basis. 

              However, the 2016 Bill has also been criticized for being anti-competitive as it introduces Clause 11B(2) which empowers the Minister to designate a person to be granted a transportation license with monopoly status for a specific area of gas supply to ensure efficient market operation.

              Companies Bill 2015
              Malaysia's Parliament has recently passed the Companies Bill 2015, and the bill is now awaiting royal assent. Upon entering into force, the Companies Bill will replace the Companies Act 1965. Some of the key changes to the legal framework of company law in Malaysia introduced through the Companies Bill are:

              • the introduction unlimited capacity for companies, as companies will no longer be required to specify object clauses in its memorandum of association;
              • no requirement for memoranda and articles of associations, although companies may still opt to adopt a constitution;
              • the migration to a no-par value regime for shares;
              • the introduction of an alternative procedure for capital reduction based on a solvency test;
              • in respect of share buy-backs, the introduction of (1) a solvency test and (2) confirmation that the automatic cancellation of shares under a share buy-back will not be deemed a reduction of capital;
              • liberalisation of the prohibition against financial assistance through the introduction of a whitewash procedure;
              • the removal of the requirement for private companies to have annual general meetings;
              • the increase in sanctions/penalties for failure of directors to meet the standards of directors’ duties and responsibilities;
              • a change in the minimum numbers of director for a private company and a public company. The new regime provides that a private company only requires a minimum of one director while a public company must still have a minimum of two directors. The new regime does retain the requirement for the minimum number of directors to be ordinarily resident in Malaysia; and 
              • the introduction of a corporate voluntary arrangement and judicial management scheme.




              The Choice of Courts Agreements Act Passed
              On 14 April 2016, the Singapore Parliament passed the Choice of Court Agreements Act ("CCAA"), which gives effect to the Hague Convention on Choice of Court Agreements (the "Hague Convention") and enhances cross-boundary dispute resolution by providing a framework for the mutual recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments of states which are parties to the Hague Convention. 

              here to read about the key elements of the CCAA, as well as its potential impact on dispute resolution in Singapore.

              PDPC Issues Report on Enforcement Actions Taken Against Errant Companies and New Advisory Guidelines on Enforcement
              On 21 April 2016, the Personal Data Protection Commission ("Commission") released details of the various enforcement actions it has taken against errant organisations that have infringed the Personal Data Protection Act since the data protection provisions of the Act came into force on 2 July 2014. The Commission has also issued a new set of Advisory Guidelines on Enforcement of the Data Protection Provisions, providing greater clarity on the Commission's approach to enforcement actions.

              here to get an overview of the key points in the Commission's report, and highlight what information can be found in the new advisory guidelines.

              Obtaining Discovery Against Banks
              In the course of a commercial dispute, it is not uncommon for parties to seek information and documents relating to bank accounts. However, obtaining pre-action discovery against a bank may not be a simple matter, as applicants must fulfill the discovery requirements without breaching banking secrecy rules. The case of La Dolce Vita Fine Dining Co Ltd and another v Deutsche Bank AG and another [2016] SGHCR 3 presents an example of a successful application for pre-action discovery against two banks.

              here to read our client update to find out what conditions must be satisfied before such discovery is allowed.

              MAS Establishes FinTech Office, Announces Upcoming Public Consultation on Regulatory Sandbox
              On 3 May 2016, the Monetary Authority of Singapore ("MAS") and the National Research Foundation established a FinTech Office to serve as a one-stop virtual entity for all financial technology ("FinTech") matters and to promote Singapore as a FinTech hub. MAS intends to actively engage FinTech firms, introduce a regulatory sandbox approach, and promote greater inter-operability across data systems. MAS has also indicated that it is working on proposed regulations for virtual currency intermediaries, which will be issued for public consultation when ready. 

              This Update discusses in more detail the role of the new FinTech Office, the proposed regulatory sandbox approach, and the formation of a new Financial Technology & Innovation Group within MAS' organisation structure which will be responsible for regulatory policies and development strategies to facilitate the use of technology and innovation in the financial sector. 

              here to read our subsequent client update on in relation to the consultation exercise on the proposed FinTech regulatory sandbox guidelines.

              MAS Eases Regulations on Sale of Corporate Bonds to Retail Investors
              The Monetary Authority of Singapore has announced the launch of two new frameworks which will facilitate the sale of corporate bonds to retail investors. Issuers which meet the eligibility requirements relating to their risk profile will be able to offer bonds directly to retail investors in denominations as little as S$1,000 without the need for a prospectus.

              here to read about the key features of the new frameworks and regulations.

              MAS Responds to Feedback on Proposals for Securities-Based Crowdfunding
              Following the issue of its consultation paper setting out proposals and clarifications on facilitating securities-based crowdfunding ("SCF") in February 2015 ("Consultation Paper"), the Monetary Authority of Singapore ("MAS") finally published its response ("Response") to the feedback received in relation to its Consultation Paper on 8 June 2016. In addition to its earlier proposals which primarily focused on accredited investors and institutional investors, the MAS also announced in its Response, certain refinements to existing rules to better accommodate retail participation in SCF.

              here to read about the notable highlights of the regulatory approach for SCF as set out in the Response.

              Recognition of Foreign Liquidators - Universalism in Singapore Insolvency Law
              In the modern commercial setting, insolvency has taken on an increasingly cross-border nature. Businesses, creditors and assets are rarely confined to a single jurisdiction. In Re Opti-Medix Ltd (in liquidation) and another matter [2016] SGHC 108, the Singapore High Court had to consider the issue of the recognition of foreign insolvency proceedings. In particular, the Court examined the recognition of foreign liquidators from jurisdictions other than the place of incorporation. The decision also looked at the increasing recognition of the need for courts to cooperate in order to effectively and efficiently resolve cross-border insolvency issues.

              here to read our client update on this decision.



              Please note that whilst the information in this Update is correct to the best of our knowledge and belief at the time of writing, it is only intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter and should not be treated as a substitute for specific professional advice.
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