Parliamentary Replies
Published Date: 09 November 2016

Reply to Parliamentary Question on the “fit and proper” guidelines in the recruitment process for financial institutions




Date: For Parliament Sitting on 09 November 2016

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Mr Leon Perera, Non-Constituency Member of Parliament


To ask the Prime Minister (a) whether any MAS rules prevent the hiring of any category of ex-offenders for positions in the financial services sector; (b) in how many instances has MAS found any financial institution to be in breach of the "fit and proper" guidelines in their recruitment process over the last ten years; (c) what have been the types of breaches deemed to have occurred in such cases; and (d) whether MAS is alerted if an individual's job application is rejected by a financial institution due to his/her being an ex-offender.

Answer by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister in charge of MAS:

1   A critical success factor for the financial industry is the trust that depositors, investors and policyholders place in financial institutions (“FIs”).  MAS expects employees and representatives of FIs to be fit and proper in order to safeguard the interests of consumers as well as to uphold Singapore’s reputation as a trusted financial centre.

2   MAS has no rules against the hiring of ex-offenders for positions in the financial industry.  MAS has issued guidelines on its expectations and criteria for what it means to be fit and proper. To-date, MAS has not found any FIs to be in breach of the due diligence requirements set out in these guidelines.

3   FIs are responsible for their own hiring decisions and ensuring that the persons they employ are fit and proper. They perform their own due diligence on potential candidates and do not have to inform MAS of candidates that they have hired or rejected. There are two exceptions to this rule. For key positions in FIs such as CEOs, board directors and selected senior management roles, FIs are required to seek MAS’ approval for their appointments after assessing them to be fit and proper. Secondly, FIs are also required to notify MAS before appointing representatives to conduct financial advisory and capital markets activities.

4   For such positions, MAS does not automatically reject an FI’s application just because the candidate is an ex-offender. MAS’ guidelines also make clear that a candidate who fails to meet any particular criterion is not automatically deemed as being not fit and proper.  MAS adopts a proportionate approach which takes into consideration the nature and responsibilities of a person in determining the relative emphasis and standard expected of that person.  In the case of ex-offenders, MAS would also have regard to the seriousness and circumstances of the offence, the time that has elapsed since their conviction, and the duties and responsibilities to be assumed.

5   Like other financial regulators, MAS has the power to issue prohibition orders (“POs”) to prevent persons with serious criminal convictions, such as dishonesty, fraud, and criminal breach of trust, from working in the financial advisory, insurance and capital markets industry for a specified period of time.  Such actions serve as deterrent, and help to uphold high standards of honesty and integrity in the financial sector.  Individuals who have been issued POs may still be considered for positions in the financial industry after the expiry of their POs.