Highlights:

  1. Transport ministers of Malaysia and Singapore to meet on 24 January
  2. Law on digital currency effective tomorrow
  3. SC to regulate offering and trading of digital assets
  4. Most organisations in APAC unprepared for regulatory changes

Transport ministers of Malaysia and Singapore to meet on 24 January
The Transport ministers of Malaysia and Singapore are expected to meet on January 24 to discuss the airspace over Pasir Gudang, Johor. This was stated by Malaysia’s Minister of Economic Affairs Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali who was in Singapore for a bilateral visit. On January 8, Malaysia agreed to suspend the restricted area in the airspace over Pasir Gudang while Singapore will similarly suspend its implementation of Instrument Landing System (ILS) procedures for Seletar Airport. Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin met three Singapore ministers including Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan while in Singapore.

Law on digital currency effective tomorrow
The law on digital currencies and digital tokens will come into effect tomorrow and any person operating unauthorised initial coin offerings (ICOs) or digital asset exchange faces a 10-year jail and RM10mil fine. Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the Capital Markets and Services (Prescription of Securities) (Digital Currency and Digital Token) Order 2019 would be effective Tuesday and the framework in place by end of the first quarter of this year. With this ruling, digital currencies and digital tokens or digital assets are prescribed as securities and will be regulated by the Securities Commission (SC). Lim said such instruments and their associated activities must be first approved by the SC and need to comply with the relevant securities laws and regulations. “The Ministry of Finance (MOF) views digital assets, as well as its underlying blockchain technologies, as having the potential to bring about innovation in both old and new industries.  “

In a related development, the Securities Commission said following the statement by Lim on the coming into force of the Capital Markets and Services (Prescription of Securities) (Digital Currency and Digital Token) Order 2019, the Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) will put in place guidelines to regulate offering and trading of digital assets. The guidelines will among others, establish criteria for determining fit and properness of issuers and exchange operators, disclosure standards and best practices in price discovery, trading rules and client asset protection. Those dealing in digital assets will be required to put in place anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing (AML / CFT) rules, cyber security and business continuity measures. The SC said in order to implement the regulatory framework on digital assets, the SC and BNM will enter into coordination arrangements to ensure compliance with laws and regulations under the purview of both regulators. The relevant regulatory framework is expected to be launched by end-Q1 2019.

Most organisations in APAC unprepared for regulatory changes: TMF Group and Asia Risk
Organisations across Asia Pacific (APAC) are struggling to keep up with new compliance rules, according to Facing the future: developing a response to regulatory change, a report jointly released by TMF Group and Asia Risk. The study, based on a survey of more than 100 senior legal and compliance professionals across the region, found that almost 40% of respondents see changing local and global regulatory requirements as a major challenge. But a worrying majority (57%) of respondents did not take any action in 2018 to adjust to regulatory changes, and do not currently have any actions planned for 2019 (62%). The report shows that many businesses are struggling with the volume and pace of change. When asked to rate on a scale of 1 – 10 their confidence in their organisation’s ability to remain compliant in 2019, more than one fifth of respondents rated their confidence five or less. Leila Szwarc, global head of compliance and strategic regulatory services at TMF Group, said: “In recent years APAC businesses have had to deal with a huge array of new regulations. Most firms are only now becoming aware of the size of the challenge they pose – but not all have yet managed to adapt. This is a crucial issue for the region’s companies, as failure to comply can have seriously detrimental consequences.”