November 30, 2016

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Family & Matrimonial Partner Michelle Woodworth featured in Her World Singapore

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Family & Matrimonial Partner Michelle Woodworth was featured in Her World Singapore in an article titled “Read this before calling your divorce lawyer”. The article highlighted new trends in family law such as how career women are increasingly expected to be self-sufficient. Michelle was quoted, “On Jan 15, 2016, the Court of Appeal delivered a seminal decision that, among other things, denied a working [female] divorcee nominal maintenance of $1 per month.” It also pointed out that while mothers retain an advantage, fathers may sometimes be awarded care and control of a child. Michelle recalled cases where the father was granted care and control “because he had lived with the
November 28, 2016

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Managing Partner Tan Chong Huat shared his views on “’Truth’ in the eyes of the beholder” in this week’s Views from the Top

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing’s Managing Partner Tan Chong Huat shared his views in this week’s topic in the Business Times’ weekly column, Views from the Top. This article was first published in The Business Times on 28 November 2016. 'Truth' in the eyes of the beholder NOV 28, 2016 5:50 AM THIS WEEK'S TOPIC: How should government and society respond to the seeming rise of a post-truth public? Tan Chong Huat Managing Partner RHTLaw Taylor Wessing LLP Singapore will not be spared the post-truth politics that Donald Trump and Brexit exploited. As the globalisation wave strikes nearly every corner of the world and as disruptive technology makes today's jobs irrelevant tomorrow, politicians will find ways to feed off the hunger and the anger of voters. In fact, Singapore saw shades of post-truth politics in the last presidential elections when two candidates promised a pie-in-the-sky dream. There was an immediate government and media pushback and the two were humiliated at the polls. There is a third weapon: society. It has to be inoculated against possible scheming charlatans as an engaged, educated and enlightened citizenry is the only antidote to poisoned politics. Another observation relates to any false news in the media which requires strict enforcement without fear or favour.
November 25, 2016

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Head of Regulatory Practice Nizam Ismail and Deputy Head of Banking & Finance Ow Kim Kit featured in Singapore Business Review

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing’s Head of Regulatory Practice Nizam Ismail and Deputy Head of Banking & Finance Ow Kim Kit was quoted in an article published in Singapore Business Review titled “Fueling anti-money laundering regime”. The article was first published in the November-December 2016 edition of Singapore Business Review. Fueling anti-money laundering regime New regulations will not be rolled out, but heightened vigilance is to be expected. Source: Singapore Business Review © 2016 Charlton Media Group Date: November-December 2016 Edition The moment the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) ordered Swiss private bank BSI to pay fines amounting to an unprecedented US$13.3 million and shut down local operations earlier in May, it sent a strong signal that there would be little mercy shown to those that want to make a fool out of the country’s anti-money laundering (AML) regime. MAS is not planning to roll out new AML regulations as it considers the regime already being one of the strongest in the world, although it did create new teams to enhance enforcement. Legal experts reckon the aftermath of the recent case will also heighten vigilance in compliance as the threat of severe, even criminal, punishment permeates the minds of banking bigwigs and their staff. As part of the push to strengthen the AML regime, the MAS has created new dedicated AML supervision and enforcement teams? How do you think will it help? The creation of these new teams is a very positive addition to the current regime, and they will enhance supervisory focus especially given the increasing complexities of transnational flows and cross border transactions, says Kim Kit Ow, partner, banking & finance at RHTLaw Taylor Wessing LLP. “Where the supervision team is concerned, the objective is to have these teams dedicate their efforts and focus on streamlining the existing responsibilities for regulatory policies, and to monitor money laundering and other financial risks by carrying out onsite supervision of how financial institutions manage such risks,” says Ow. “A dedicated Enforcement department will translate into a strong enforcement capability that is necessary to take swift actions to punish the institutions or individuals who have breached MAS’ regulations.” How should banks and other financial institutions brace for tougher regulation moving forward? In the short run there will be some heightened measures in the banks and financial institutions, says Ow, in order to self-ensure and self-police that they are not going to be the next bank to be made an example of by regulators. This is a good time for banks and financial institutions to take stock and ensure that their existing policies and processes comply with regulatory expectations. The increased regulatory scrutiny will compel financial institutions to make AML compliance not merely the concern of solely the back office compliance team but a concern that is shared by all members of the organisation, says Eric Chan, partner, financial services regulatory, Shook Lin & Bok LLP. What else should be done to avoid repetition of the incident involving local financial institutions of Singapore? The MAS and enforcement agencies must continue to push for a mindset change in relation to the risks of money laundering, says Chan. “The regulatory standards are already there. And most financial institutions and regulated entities would already have implemented internal policies and procedures consistent with those standards. What is now needed is an enhancement of implementation and execution efforts,” says Chan. To improve adherence to corporate policies and procedures, he reckons staff working in financial institutions and other regulated sectors will need to take personal ownership of AML compliance. Management, meanwhile, must take the lead in setting the tone, which is often easier said than done, because the risks often seem somewhat distant. “Our key weakness – as is the case, I should add, in many other jurisdictions – is that many individuals still do not believe that money laundering is a real risk for their organisation,” says Chan. “It is for this reason that many staff in financial institutions and other regulated sectors still tend not to take customer due diligence requirements too seriously but continue to regard it as a cumbersome burden. And this explains the various lapses that we have been hearing of recently,” he says. Banking leaders such as board members and senior management must start owning AML and counter financing of terrorism (CFT) compliance matters because they can be at risk, and even face criminal prosecution, for egregious lapses, says Nizam Ismail, partner and head of regulatory practice at RHTLaw Taylor Wessing LLP, and co-founder of RHT Compliance Solutions. MAS has shown that it will be ruthless when it comes to prosecuting leaders when it comes to compliance lapses, announcing in public that it has referred six former senior business leaders in BSI bank to the public prosecutor’s office for criminal prosecution. Ismail advises board members and senior management to allot robust resources for AML/ CFT and then rally the organisation to strengthen compliance. “Compliance culture is key,” says Ismail. “The BSI case highlighted that even with well-resourced compliance teams and AML/ CFT processes, breaches can occur where senior management did not take compliance seriously.”
November 11, 2016

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Deputy Head of Real Estate Practice Sandra Han featured in The Edge Property

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing’s Deputy Head of Real Estate Practice Sandra Han was quoted in The Edge Property article titled “Collective sales sputtering back to life”. The article was first published in The Edge Property on 11 November 2016. Collective sales sputtering back to life Source: The Edge Property Date: 11 November 2016 Author: Cecilia Chow After a two-year drought with zero sales in 2014 and the lone en bloc deal of Thong Sia Building last year, the recent three deals topping $1 billion foreshadow an awakening of the collective sale market. “Based on a three-year snapshot, naturally $1 billion sounds like a lot,” says Karamjit Singh, JLL’s international director and head of residential. “But when compared with the preceding four years — from 2010 to 2013 — during which collective sales averaged $1.9 billion a year, it’s still low.” (See chart.) Singh attributes the recent collective sale deals to a confluence of factors: developers’ outlook having turned more positive as projects launched recently have sold reasonably well; inventory of unsold units has been reduced, spurring developers’ need to replenish their land bank; and reduced supply of development land available under the government land sales (GLS) programme since 2H2015, prompting developers to turn to collective sale sites as an alternative. JLL brokered the sale of Thong Sia Building for $380 million in July last year; it marked the largest collective sale of a mixed-use development to date. The project is located just off prime Orchard Road, opposite Paragon shopping centre. This year, JLL brokered two of the three collective sale deals: The 358-unit Shunfu Ville sold to mainland Chinese developer Qingjian Realty for $638 million in May, and the 175-unit Raintree Gardens at Potong Pasir sold to a joint venture (JV) between Singapore-listed developers UOL Group and sister company United Industrial Corp for $334.2 million in October. The third sale this year was Harbour View Gardens in Pasir Panjang, a freehold 14-unit apartment block purchased by Singapore-listed property group Roxy-Pacific Holdings for $33.25 million at end-August. These successful deals have spurred owners of other ageing private condominiums to revisit the collective sale route. “Many owners are asking if this is a good time to embark on a collective sale process,” says Singh. Owners sitting on a goldmine? Other property consultants have also been receiving similar calls. “These are mainly from hopeful owners wondering if the boom times have returned, and whether they are sitting on a goldmine,” says Jeremy Lake, CBRE executive director of investment properties. The enquires straddle all segments — privatised HUDC estates, older leasehold private condos, and some of the old private freehold projects that may have been unsuccessful in the past and are now looking to revive the collective sale process, Lake adds. Even lawyers have been besieged by phone calls. After representing the buyers in the collective sale of Shunfu Ville and Raintree Gardens, Lee Liat Yeang, senior partner of real estate practice group at Dentons Rodyk & Davidson, says he has received many enquiries from developers. Most of their concerns revolve around the issue of lease top-up and the likelihood of obtaining approval at the High Court or Strata Titles Board (STB) stage, Lee observes. Shunfu Ville, a privatised HUDC estate, has 69 years left on its lease. Therefore, part of the purchase price of $638 million includes a differential premium payable to the state to top up the lease for another 99 years and intensify the land use. Based on the site’s land area of 408,927 sq ft and gross plot ratio of 2.8, the new development can potentially yield over 1,100 units of an average size of 1,000 sq ft. JLL has estimated a breakeven price of $1,250 psf, with selling prices in the range of $1,400 to $1,500 psf. Qingjian had hoped to build towers of 30 to 36 storeys, but was told by URA to stick to the height limit of 21 to 23 storeys for the new project, according to news reports last month. This means the residential blocks will be lower and stouter. That could affect the premium it could otherwise command for high floor units with unblocked views, property observers say. Obstacles part of collective sale process Although 82% of the owners at Shunfu Ville had agreed to the collective sale, there were five who raised objections. After two mediation sessions failed, the STB issued a stop order to the collective sales committee, which has since applied to the High Court to seek approval for the sale. Shunfu Ville marks Qingjian Realty’s first en bloc purchase after eight years as a developer in Singapore. “We will await the final outcome of the [en bloc] purchase,” says Li Jun, managing director of Qingjian Realty (South Pacific) Group in response to email queries from The Edge Singapore. “We will definitely want to maximise the plot ratio, within the scope of the URA guidelines, when it is time to embark on the design. “Whatever the outcome, Qingjian Realty remains committed to building homes that are relevant to, and complement, the lifestyles of our homeowners,” says Li. At $638 million, each of the 358 owners at Shunfu Ville will walk away with an average of $1.782 million — which is almost 50% higher than the price an individual unit could command in the resale market, says JLL. And this is despite the fact that the sale price is below the reserve price of $688 million. For Raintree Gardens, the sale price of $334.2 million reflects a land cost of $797 psf per plot ratio on the potential gross floor area, inclusive of a differential premium payable to the state to top up the lease and for a redevelopment of the site to a gross plot ratio of 2.8. Raintree Gardens is also a privatised HUDC estate, with 70 years left on its existing lease. If the sale is successful, each apartment owner at Raintree Gardens will get an average of $1.9 million. The sale is subject to several conditions, including an order of sale by the STB or High Court. Minority owner objections throw spanner in the works “For bigger developments,