Stefanie Yuen Thio comments in BT: “Room to sharpen regulatory efficiency”

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23 April 2019

Stefanie Yuen Thio comments in BT: “Room to sharpen regulatory efficiency”

Features Stefanie Yuen Thio

In a news story published by the Business Times on 22 April 2019 on how the corporate regulatory process in Singapore can be improved, Stefanie Yuen Thio said that while corporate scandals and failures cannot be totally avoided, the speed of response from the investigators and prosecutors is crucial.

She added: “That said, sometimes even when the regulators move fast, it may already be too late, especially when the assets have been dissipated or if they are held in an offshore location where we cannot easily get to them. There is no one solution; we need to beef up the entire universe of legal remedies.”

She further said: “The ability to fine and disqualify directors would send a strong message and be a significant deterrent, at least for Singapore-based directors. Potentially we could also consider if other limited and temporary emergency powers – to obtain information from listed companies where it looks like there’s a real risk of assets being dissipated or evidence destroyed – would be appropriate. As fraud becomes more sophisticated and corporate wrongdoing goes increasingly borderless, we need to arm the SGX with weapons of speed and greater impact.

“I would take it a step further and say that you should give the agencies limited (if temporary) emergency powers to demand immediate production of information if it looks like there’s a possibility of asset dissipation. Extend the sanctions to chief financial officers and financial controllers, who should be the first to smell a financial misfeasance rat.

“Next, change the law to give minority shareholders a lot more power to take action when they believe that a company is being unlawfully mismanaged. We need to allow class action lawsuits and give shareholders the right to sue errant directors directly (without having to go through the company).”

The story may be found here (BT Link)