SGX RegCo enforces new whistleblowing policy for issuers

This followed a public consultation on changes to the Listing Rules.

Singapore Exchange Regulation (SGX RegCo) is expanding its range of enforcement powers and requiring issuers to have a whistleblowing policy as well as expand its range of enforcement powers.

According to SGX RegCo, market participants in the public consultation had broadly supported this change to the listing rules. This will pave the way towards faster enforcement outcomes and reinforce confidence in Singapore’s capital markets, act as a greater deterrent against malfeasance, and enhance the protection of investors, SGX RegCo added.

SGX RegCo will mandate all issuers to establish and maintain a whistleblowing policy where the identity of the whistleblower is kept confidential and the individual is protected from reprisal. Issuers will be required to state in their annual reports that such a policy is in place for financial years commencing from 1 January 2021, as well as an explanation of how they have complied with key requirements such as independent oversight of the policy and commitment to protection of the identity of the whistleblower. This requirement will take effect from 1 January 2022 and apply to annual reports published from this date.

Additionally, SGX RegCo may, starting 1 August, issue a public reprimand and require an issuer to comply with specified conditions. These actions will be non-appealable.

The regulatory body may also prohibit an issuer from accessing the facilities of the market for a specified period or until fulfilment of specified conditions, prohibit any issuer from appointing or reappointing a director or an executive officer for up to 3 years, and require a director or an executive officer to resign which will be appealable to the Listings Appeals Committee.

More severe sanctions, such as fines, will continue to be reserved for the independent Listings Disciplinary Committee.

“The market has spoken and is demanding more public accountability more quickly. Particularly in uncertain times, we need to give investors faster answers and greater assurance. Speedy enforcement is also a stronger deterrent that will complement our other pre-emptive efforts such as our new whistleblowing framework,” said Tan Boon Gin, CEO of SGX RegCo.

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