Regulators in key financial centres have investigated or taken action in relation to the attempted manipulation of various benchmarks. Regulators in the US and UK have recently levied US$3.4 billion dollars in fines against banks alleged to have manipulated the foreign exchange market. Swiss regulator FINMA has imposed restrictions when imposing penalties in connection with foreign exchange benchmark manipulation, including limiting bonuses to twice the basic salary for foreign exchange staff and required at least 95% of global foreign exchange trading to be automated.
In the wake of these investigations and sanctions, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (“MAS”) sought to introduce a regulatory framework for the setting of financial benchmarks. The framework would (1) introduce criminal and civil sanctions for manipulation of any financial benchmark, and (2) subject the setting of key financial benchmarks to regulatory oversight, amongst others. The MAS proposes to designate key financial benchmarks and subject entities administering and/or submitting inputs for the determination of designated benchmarks to regulatory requirements. In July – August 2014, the MAS held a public consultation on the proposed draft legislation implementing the new regulatory framework.
It remains to be seen how the MAS will exercise its new powers to impose criminal and civil sanctions in relation to financial benchmark manipulation. As the MAS has indicated that it considers the actions and measures taken by UK and EU regulators with respect to regulatory frameworks and actions in determining the Singapore regulatory approach, the MAS will likely have regard to the investigations conducted and action taken by the international regulators with respect to manipulation of the foreign exchange market.