Financial services regulatory: foreign firms in Singapore

Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance has an established mix of contentious and non-contentious financial services regulatory work, primarily with an international flavour. The non-contentious team led by Lena Ng is especially active in the fintech, cryptocurrency, blockchain, payment services and data privacy segments. The group is also recognised for collective investment scheme-related work. In regulatory and internal investigations, Kabir Singh and Janice Goh, a newly elected partner in its Formal Law Alliance (FLA) firm Cavenagh Law LLP, are noted for insider trading, data breaches and cyber hacking matters, among others. Nish Shetty provides further senior contentious gravitas.

Testimonials

‘Lena Ng is responsive and commercial.’

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP

Herbert Smith Freehills LLP's Singapore team has a broad geographic scope, handling a wide variety of contentious and non-contentious matters, including a particularly fine record in the fintech segment. It represents a high number of major banks and financial institutions, along with technology, social media, payment services, and e-commerce clients. Natalie Curtis has played an anchor role in building the firm's standing in Singapore, having transferred from Hong Kong in 2018. She has worked on a series of major recent matters including anti-money laundering and combatting the financing of terrorism engagements, while payment services regulations and licences is another area of recent experience, along with corporate governance and compliance.

Practice head(s):

Natalie Curtis

Testimonials

‘The individuals I work with stand out in two main respects; technical knowledge and being extremely well connected with regulators. On the former, they consistently identify the hot-button issues of the day, and make it their business to become expert in those issues in short order. On the latter it is extremely useful as a client to know that these individuals are in regular contact with regulators and policymakers, and that they have a good understanding of regulators’ thinking as well as the black letter of the regulations themselves.’

‘This practice is unusually well connected across the region, with the Hong Kong and Singapore teams working together seamlessly. This is really helpful to me as a client covering the region; I know I can get consistently excellence advice and knowhow across the main financial centres of the Asia Pacific region.’

‘The team is able to effectively incorporate both legislative interpretation and practical guidance into their advice.’

‘Natalie Curtis runs a strong financial services regulatory practice together with Sandra Tsao and Kenneth Lo from their alliance firm Prolegis. Natalie is an experienced operator in the financial services industry, and Prolegis provides the local insight and know-how, which is a potent combination. I have found the HSF-Prolegis alliance more practical and collaborative to work with, compared with at least two other financial services regulatory practices in Singapore.’

‘We appreciate that Natalie Curtis is open to creative solutions and also makes proactive suggestions to help our company enhance its position and reduce complexity. Natalie is also a clear communicator and produces high-quality written work. I would recommend Natalie and her team to others.’

Work highlights

  • Advised a leading international commercial bank on a regulatory investigation in relation to alleged breaches of AML/CFT regulations.
  • Advised a leading payment services provider (merchant acquisition, e-money issuance, account issuance and cross border money transfer) on its application for a payment services licence and the expansion of its business in various Asia jurisdictions, including Singapore, Hong Kong and Indonesia.
  • Advised a number of global financial institutions on culture, conduct, corporate governance and compliance with senior management accountability regimes in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia.

Linklaters

Linklaters operates across the non-contentious and contentious spheres, continuing its established record in representing major financial institutions, including international, regional, and local banks, along with investment managers, broker-dealers, commodity houses, market operators, and insurance companies. Emerging talent Peiying Chua has played an anchor role in developing the firm's non-contentious practice in Singapore, notably in the fintech and cryptocurrency fields.  She led the advice to the Association of Cryptocurrency Enterprises and Startups in collaboration with the Association of Banks in Singapore to produce an industry code of conduct targeted at crypto asset firms operating in Singapore. The highly-rated Jelita Pandjaitan provides further extensive expertise in international financial regulatory investigations.

Testimonials

‘Always prompt in delivering advice and having a good ability to marry the regulations and commercial sensibility.’

‘Peiying Chua and her team are responsive, incredibly knowledgeable about the Payment Services Act, and provide commercially sound advice and solutions.’

‘Peiying Chua is extremely sharp and has a strong ability to interpret the regulations in the financial services space. Deliverables are on time and top-notch quality.’

Key clients

ACCESS

The Siam Commercial Bank

Dalian Commodity Exchange

Standard Chartered Bank

JP Morgan

Citibank

UBS

HSBC

RBS

Credit Suisse

Morgan Stanley

Barclays

UOB

OCBC

KKR

Nomura

JOHCM

Microsoft

Work highlights

  • Advised the Association of Cryptocurrency Enterprises and Startups, in collaboration with the Association of Banks in Singapore, to produce a first-of-its-kind code of practice in Singapore setting out anti-money laundering and countering terrorism financing best practices for cryptocurrency firms operating in Singapore.
  • Advised The Siam Commercial Bank Public Company on its joint venture with Julius Baer and on financial services legislation and issues (including the setting up of a regulated entity in Singapore and related regulatory, licensing and business conduct obligations).
  • Advised BondEvalue on the creation of an electronic platform facilitating fractional ownership of bonds, the world’s first blockchain-based fractional bond trading platform.

Norton Rose Fulbright

Norton Rose Fulbright is fully-aligned with the development of the financial services sector in Singapore, notably in fintech, disruptive technologies, and digital currencies. It is also active in digital banking licence applications. The team features a number of former in-house counsels and others that have completed stints with financial services regulators such as the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). The Singapore team also leverages the expertise and experience of colleagues in the US and Europe. The group now represents a range of financial institutions along with a growing number of start-ups and growth companies. Anna Tipping is an insurance sector specialist, while Stella Cramer is a leading figure in fintech and disruptive technologies. Wilson Ang is key for compliance and investigations. Singapore office head Yu-En Ong leads the team.

Practice head(s):

Yu-En Ong

Key clients

AXA

QBE

Transamerica

BNP Paribas

Factory Mutual

FWD

Citibank

The Northern Trust Company

United Overseas Bank

Allen & Overy

Allen & Overy has a strong focus on payment services and the digital banking space, drawing on the experiences of colleagues in London and Hong Kong. The firm also leverages its sizeable Southeast Asia geographic footprint, representing traditional financial institutions, tech-focused financial institutions, and non-financial players including unicorns. Counsel Shuhui Kwok leads the financial services regulatory practice, which includes prominent corporate partner James Mythen, who specialises in the financial services field.

Practice head(s):

Shuhui Kwok

Other key lawyers:

James Mythen

Testimonials

‘Responsive and easy to deal with.’

‘Shuhui Kwok was responsive, flexible, very knowledgeable, and provided very practical and cost-efficient advice.’

Key clients

Standard Chartered Bank

ACR Capital Holdings

Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC)

Morgan Stanley

ABN Amro

Bank of America Merrill Lynch

DBS Bank

Work highlights

  • Advised ACR and the selling shareholders on the $660m sale of Asia Capital Reinsurance Group, a pan-Asian reinsurance platform, to Catalina Holdings (Bermuda).
  • Advised Standard Chartered Bank on the disposal of its private equity business in a management buy-out.