Don’t be intrigued by the title. I am not going to talk about animals and birds for I know nothing of them. But that does not mean I write only about things that I know of. I write about things that I am reasonably knowledgeable about. Here ends the caveat.
The day was exceptionally hot, hotter than many other days if this year. I retired to my desk after lunch and began looking at a mail that spoke about the MAS. Don’t get me wrong. It was not about MAS Selamat. It was about MAS – The Monetary Authority of Singapore.
MAS, as the financial regulator is commonly known, has announced that it would increase the cooperation with other countries in fighting Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing and therefore would be amending the relevant laws for the same. Noble announcements though, I thought.
One of the rules was very typical of Singapore. It said,”.. failure to comply will result in a fine not exceeding $1 million and, in the case of a continuing offence, to a further fine of $100,000 for every day during which the offence continues.” I really liked the ‘fine’ that has become a part and parcel of Singapore’s culture.
Wait a minute. Where is the ‘black sheep’ and how did it turn into a ‘white pigeon’ in this new law ?
Next in the article was an announcement by none other than HSBC bank. It said thus :
“HSBC Singapore continually invests in risk and compliance capabilities to achieve the highest standards in the fight against financial crime, which knows no geography,” said a bank spokeswoman. “As an international bank, we welcome any regulatory proposals that can strengthen the bank’s efforts to combat financial crime,” she said.
Can you imagine this ? HSBC bank coming out voluntarily to accept more regulatory oversight for ‘combating financial crime’? If it sounds like Hitler declaring his love for Mahatma Gandhi, please don’t blame me.
Recently HSBC had apparently assigned Mexico a lower category of risk. Every small town bank in the world knows about the drug money and un-ethical finance streams in the country. But HSBC had assigned the country a low risk category. So much for ‘fighting financial crime’.
And then it paid USD 1.92 Billion to the US regulator for ‘allowing itself to be used to launder a river of drug money flowing out of Mexico and other banking lapses’.
And in Singapore it says ,’we welcome any regulatory proposals that can strengthen the bank’s efforts to combat financial crime,’
So what is wrong with the title ‘.When black sheep turned white pigeon’?