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Aaron Dauber

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Aaron Dauber is a Knowledge Lawyer in Baker McKenzie Hong Kong office.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) recently released a consultation (“Consultation”) on its “Proposed Amendments to MAS’ Investigative and Other Powers under the Various Acts.” The amendments, to be introduced through the Financial Institutions (“Miscellaneous Amendments”) Bill (“proposed provisions”), will expand the supervisory and enforcement powers of the MAS under the following acts: Banking Act (BA); Credit Bureau Act; Financial Advisers Act (FAA); Insurance Act (IA); Payment Services Act (PS Act); Securities and Futures Act (SFA); Trust Companies Act (TCA); and the upcoming new omnibus Act (“new Act”) for the financial sector (collectively, “relevant Acts”).

“Ramp and dump” or “pump and dump” schemes continue to attract significant press coverage and are an enforcement priority for the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) in Hong Kong. These schemes do not only have penalties for the fraudsters, but could also have significant implications for SFC-licensed corporations (LCs) who are the gatekeepers for the financial system. Recent statements by the SFC and The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited (SEHK) suggest that the impact of these schemes is not limited to secondary trading and may extend to initial public offerings (IPOs).

Hong Kong continues to have an active and growing money-lending market. Since 2016, the Hong Kong Government has adopted a four-pronged approach to enhancing the compliance standards of non-bank money lenders. The Hong Kong Companies Registry (CR), which currently performs the role of Registrar of Money Lenders (“Registrar”) pursuant to the Money Lenders Ordinance (MLO),1 recently released a new Guideline on Fit and Proper Criteria for Licensing of Money Lenders2 (“Fit and Proper Guideline”) and a Guideline on Submission of Business Plan by Applicant of a Money Lenders Licence3 (“Business Plan Guideline”). The new guidelines (“Guidelines”) will be effective from 1 April 2021. In this publication, we provide an overview of the money lenders regime in Hong Kong and the implications of the new Guidelines on new and existing market participants. 

In his recent 2021-22 Budget Speech,1 the Financial Secretary (“Financial Secretary”) of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (“Hong Kong Government”) confirmed the intended timing for submission of a legislative proposal to allow foreign investment funds to re-domicile to Hong Kong for registration as an Open-ended Fund Company (OFC). The Financial Secretary also announced subsidies for the costs of setting up a new OFC or re-domiciling of foreign investment funds registering as an OFC in Hong Kong. The latest measures represent further important steps in ongoing enhancements and incentives to promote use of the OFC regime. We discuss the recent developments in more depth below.

Hong Kong continues to have an active and growing money-lending market. Since 2016, the Hong Kong Government has adopted a four-pronged approach to enhancing the compliance standards of non-bank money lenders. The Hong Kong Companies Registry (CR), which currently performs the role of Registrar of Money Lenders (“Registrar”) pursuant to the Money Lenders Ordinance (MLO),1 recently released a new Guideline on Fit and Proper Criteria for Licensing of Money Lenders2 (“Fit and Proper Guideline”) and a Guideline on Submission of Business Plan by Applicant of a Money Lenders Licence3 (“Business Plan Guideline”). The new guidelines (“Guidelines”) will be effective from 1 April 2021. In this publication, we provide an overview of the money lenders regime in Hong Kong and the implications of the new Guidelines on new and existing market participants. 

In his recent 2021-22 Budget Speech,1 the Financial Secretary (“Financial Secretary”) of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (“Hong Kong Government”) confirmed the intended timing for submission of a legislative proposal to allow foreign investment funds to re-domicile to Hong Kong for registration as an Open-ended Fund Company (OFC). The Financial Secretary also announced subsidies for the costs of setting up a new OFC or re-domiciling of foreign investment funds registering as an OFC in Hong Kong. The latest measures represent further important steps in ongoing enhancements and incentives to promote use of the OFC regime. We discuss the recent developments in more depth below.

On 20 January 2021, the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (“SFC”) and the Office of the Securities and Exchange Commission of Thailand (“Thai SEC”) jointly announced1 (“Announcement”) that they had entered into a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) for the Mutual Recognition of Funds between the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China and Thailand (“HK-TH MRF”).2 The HK-TH MRF represents a significant additional step to foster closer ties and financial cooperation between Hong Kong and Thailand. It follows, amongst other existing arrangements, the long term co-operation between the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and Bank of Thailand to explore a Distributed Ledger Technology solution for cross border funds transfers known as project Inthanon – Lionrock3 and the Memorandum of Understanding on the Strengthening of Economic Relations signed on 29 November 2019 by the respective governments.4 In this Client Alert we provide an overview of some of the key aspects of the HK-TH MRF.