Singapore, 11 May 2017 - Singapore's highest court will decide tomorrow morning, Friday 12th May, whether investors should have the right to hold banks based in Singapore to account. BNP Paribas are attempting to ignore Singapore's banking regulations, with respect to a multi-billion dollar merger. The case will set an important legal precedent regarding investor rights and the extent to which multi-national banks can 'opt out' of Singaporean law.
Legal proceedings were brought by a number of BNP clients, including the prominent Israeli-British businessman Jacob Agam, who questioned the validity of BNP's bank's $16 billion merger with its Singapore arm, BNP Wealth Management. The merger was invalid as two parts of BNP's business merged without seeking prior consent from Singapore's main financial authorities - the High Court of Singapore and the Singaporean Finance Minister. Permission from both authorities has long been required under multiple sections of the Singapore Banking Act.
The case was first heard by the Singapore International Commercial Court on 17 February 2017, which upheld the controversial merger on the basis that BNP had complied with French banking law, rather than the relevant Singaporean financial regulations.
If Singapore's highest court, the Court of Appeal, decides to uphold the contentious SICC decision this week, there will be significant ramifications for Singapore's multi-trillion dollar financial services industry and for local as well as foreign investors who hold assets with banks based in Singapore.
Mr. Agam commented "The Singapore authorities need to ensure that depositors and investors, both locally and internationally, are protected when investing in banks based in Singapore. There needs to be a dependable system of regulation in Singapore. If the judiciary decide to uphold the SICC decision, they will be telling the world that banks based in Singapore can ignore Singaporean law with impunity, and will become the only country in the world where big banks can pick and choose whether they will be regulated."
The appeal will be heard at 10:00AM SGT in the High Court of the Republic of Singapore (Court of Appeal) by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, Judge of Appeal Judith Prakash and Justice Dyson Heydon.
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Source:DiCello Levitt & Casey LLC