Letters to Editor
Published Date: 31 December 2008

Response to "Why MAS Should Handle Complaints, by Leong Kok Ho" (Straits Times Forum, 24 December 2008)

Dear Editor

I refer to "Why MAS should handle complaints, by Leong Kok Ho" (Straits Times Forum, 24 December 2008).

MAS understands the anxiety of many investors who have purchased DBS High Notes 5, Lehman Minibond Notes and Merrill Lynch Jubilee Series 3 LinkEarner Notes. We assure investors that we are monitoring the financial institutions (FIs)' complaints handling and resolution process. Our priority is to ensure that all complaints are handled seriously and impartially without the process becoming overly legalistic.

Independent parties (IPs) have been appointed to review the resolution processes of the FIs concerned to ensure that these processes are independent, fair and transparent.

MAS has, in consultation with the IPs, conducted on-site visits to assess the handling and review of complaints, including observing the internal review panels in action. We are working with the IPs to ensure that each FI has a robust assessment framework to identify indicators of potential mis-selling and offer fair financial settlement where appropriate.  The IPs have provided feedback to MAS on how the FIs have applied the framework across a sample of actual cases. We are ensuring that the assessment framework is consistent across FIs.

Investors who are not satisfied with the outcome of the FI’s review of their complaints may refer their complaints to the Financial Industry Dispute Resolution Centre (FIDReC) for resolution. FIDReC is an independent body set up to provide investors with an affordable and impartial avenue to pursue claims against their FI. The decision of the FIDReC Adjudicator is final and binding on the FI, but not on the investor. If the investor is not happy with the decision made at FIDReC, he is free to reject the decision and pursue his claim through other avenues.

As part of MAS' formal investigations, we are looking at FI-wide issues, such as the FI’s due diligence into the structured notes, the procedures used at the point of sale, and the training and supervision of relationship managers. MAS will take firm and appropriate regulatory actions where there are breaches of law or regulations by the FIs or their representatives. MAS is also working with the IPs to ensure that any potential FI-wide issues identified in the course of investigations have been incorporated into the assessment of individual complaints.

Angelina Fernandez
Director (Communications)
Monetary Authority of Singapore