August 2, 2017

Head of Regulatory Practice Nizam Ismail shares with The Straits Times his take on initial coin offerings (ICOs) becoming a popular method to fund raise

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Head of Regulatory Practice Nizam Ismail shares with The Straits Times his take on initial coin offerings (ICOs) that is becoming a popular method of fund raising.  The article was first published in The Straits Times on 2 August 2017.  Scheme's real value lies in the long-term benefits Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd Date: 2 August 2017 Author: Grace Leong The issuing of digital tokens such as virtual coins will face regulation here if they are structured like securities coming under the Securities and Futures Act (SFA), the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said yesterday. The clarification comes in the wake of a rise in initial coin offerings (ICOs) here as a means of fund raising. The US Securities and Exchange Commission last week also issued a report that virtual coins or tokens may be securities - subject to the federal securities laws. ICOs are prone to money laundering and terrorism financing risks, given the anonymity of transactions and the ease of quickly raising large sums, MAS said. Some digital tokens can confer on holders certain rights such as services, non-monetary rewards and physical assets such as gold. A virtual currency is a type of digital token, which typically functions as a medium of exchange, a unit of account or a store of value. Previously, MAS had said that while virtual currencies per se were not regulated, the offerors of such currencies would be regulated in relation to money laundering and terrorism financing risks. But now, MAS has said offers of digital tokens will be regulated if they are structured like securities, debt, or units in a collective investment scheme under SFA. MAS' position of not regulating virtual currencies is similar to that of most jurisdictions. But it noted the function of digital tokens has evolved. For example, digital tokens may represent ownership or a security interest over an issuer's assets or property. Issuers of such tokens would be required to register a prospectus with MAS prior to the offering of such tokens, unless exempted. They would also be subject to licensing requirements under the SFA and Financial Advisers Act, unless exempted, and to the applicable requirements on anti-money laundering and countering terrorism financing. Platforms offering secondary trading of such tokens have to be MAS-approved as a recognised market operator under SFA. The regulator is also assessing how to regulate money laundering and terrorism financing risks associated with activities involving digital tokens that do not function solely as virtual currencies. Angel investor David Lee said this is "positive because MAS has issued clear statements on what constitutes a token offering. The key thing is the token must not be backed or linked to an underlying security or debt''. He added: "If you try to do a Reit through an offer of tokens, then that is a security offering. If you are offering rights like a right to vote, or using certain facilities in a software, then that is not regulated by MAS. There are a lot of token offerings in that category." Mr Nizam Ismail, partner and head of regulatory practice of RHTLaw Taylor Wessing, said ICOs are a "cost-efficient way to raise funds". "But the issuer will have to get independent legal advice on whether their coins or tokens are securities, because the offer of securities without a prospectus where required is a criminal offence." He warned: "The moment there is a fraudulent offer, that will affect investor confidence, and kill the entire market."
August 2, 2017

Head of International China Practice Amanda Chen signs Cooperative Charter on behalf of RHTLaw Taylor Wessing at the One Belt One Road Legal Services International Cooperation Forum in Chengdu

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Head of International China Practice Amanda Chen was invited to speak at the One Belt One Road Legal Services International Cooperation Forum 2017 in Chengdu, China. The two-day conference was held from 29-31 July 2017 at the Century City International Convention Centre. On behalf of RHTLaw Taylor Wessing, Amanda also signed the Cooperation Charter of the “Belt and Road” Legal Services Cooperative, along with 32 other law firms from 20 countries who attended the forum. Amanda spoke about the economic development and legal services in the Maritime Silk Road, specifically covering the ASEAN economic development and the implementation of One Belt One Road initiatives. Other prominent speakers comprised Bo-Sen Von, Partner and Senior Attorney of Lee & Li Attorneys-at-Law; Julia Charlton, Senior Partner of Charltons; Dang Ngoc Huong, Partner of DS-Avocats Vietnam and Michelle Dixon, Chief Executive Officer & Partner of Maddocks. The forum seeks to launch an international, professional and open legal service platform to promote the implementation of China’s One Belt One Road initiative. Whereby, representatives across international borders are able to work hand in hand and render legal support to Chinese enterprises, share commercial information and business opportunities in investment, mergers & acquisitions, and trade. 300 representatives across notable law firms in Europe, United States and Asia, Senior Officials and various entrepreneurs attended this event.
August 2, 2017

Co-Head of Employment Practice Vernon Voon shares with Channel NewsAsia his views on the new Tripartite Standard on Employment of Term Contract Employees

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Co-Head of Employment Practice Vernon Voon was interviewed by Channel NewsAsia on the new Tripartite Standard on Employment of Term Contract Employees. The interview was aired on Channel NewsAsia’s Singapore Tonight segment on 31 July 2017. This interview makes relation to the new tripartite standard launched by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM), National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and Singapore National Employers Federation. The new standard aims to let term contract employees obtain better benefits such as leave benefits, training and notice period. Vernon’s view was that the new standard is only a guideline and thus, if breached, does not constitute an offence. However, he also noted that “the Ministry of Manpower takes breaches of guidelines seriously” and “reserve the right to take this into account whenever they need to exercise discretion regarding the companies’ requests on the employment front”.
July 31, 2017

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing bolsters Corporate Practice with new Partner appointment

New hire with specialist knowledge underscores Firm’s emphasis on leveraging the demand for legal advice on cross border transactions with both Chinese and Asian clients Leading international law firm RHTLaw Taylor Wessing strengthens its Corporate Practice with the appointment of Mr Wee Jee Kin as a Partner, effective 4 July 2017. Jee Kin joins RHTLaw Taylor Wessing from a China-based oil and gas / infrastructure conglomerate where he served as Group Head of Legal overseeing a team comprising lawyers from China, France and Singapore. Prior to his five-year stint in the China-based company, he was Head of Group Legal & Company Secretary of public-listed company, Hanwell Holdings Limited. With a legal career spanning 25 years, Jee Kin has substantial merger and acquisition (M&A) experience in the international arena, and also has significant expertise in commodities, healthcare, petroleum products, technology and telecommunications. Many transactions he has handled were cross-border with geographical coverage in Asia, United States, Europe, Middle East and Africa. He is also experienced in corporate governance and the Singapore Exchange (SGX) Listing rules. Azman Jaafar, Head of RHTLaw Taylor Wessing’s Corporate Practice and also its Deputy Managing Partner, added, “Jee Kin’s addition to the Corporate Practice is in line with our strategy of diving deeper into Greater China. Not only does he have fundamental credentials in the region, he brings with him the added perspectives of how business owners operate having headed various in-house legal teams. I look forward to working with Jee Kin as we continue to expand our presence in Asia.  With his unique skill sets, Jee Kin will be an important asset for our ASEAN Plus M&A team as demand for legal services in cross-border transactions grow this year.” Jee Kin has a broad range of experience in investment and development projects in China. He has acted as a point of liaison for Chinese subcontractors including State Owned Enterprises on infrastructure contracts for Africa, and led negotiations on property and commercial acquisitions in China. He has also been a Director of a China-based company, ASA Holdings Ltd since 2011. Jee Kin’s arrival follows the appointment of Ben Constance and Gilad Shay, who joined the Firm’s Corporate practice in February 2017. Jee Kin graduated from University of Hull in the United Kingdom in 1989. He was called to the Bar of England and Wales and the Bar in Singapore in 1991. In 2003, he obtained his LL.M in Information Technology and Telecommunications Law from the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow in the United Kingdom and was called to the Bar in Queensland, Australia in 2004. --- This press release is featured in the following news reports: "RHTLaw plucks corporate partner from oil and energy MNC" - Asian Legal Business, 1 August 2017 "Corporate Move" - The Edge, 14 August 2017