February 4, 2016

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Partner Nizam Ismail quoted in the Straits Times

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing’s Banking and Finance, and Corporate Partner Nizam Ismail was quoted in an article published in the Straits Times titled “Spotlight now on Swiss bank caught up in 1MBD saga”. The article was first published in the Straits Times on 4 February 2016.   Spotlight now on Swiss bank caught up in 1MDB saga This comes after BSI exec files request with High Court to free up his accounts Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Date: 4 Feb 2016 Author: Yasmine Yahya and Chong Koh Ping Swiss bank BSI has attracted media attention in recent months, after becoming caught up in the controversy surrounding Malaysian state investor 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). The latest development came when one of BSI's senior private bankers here - Mr Yak Yew Chee – filed a request with Singapore's High Court for some of his money to be released. It has been reported that several of his bank accounts, containing about $10 million, were frozen as part of investigations surrounding 1MDB Global last September. BSI is a relative latecomer in Singapore's private banking scene, having started business here only in 2010. It created headlines when it was said to have poached about 80 employees from rival private bank RBS Coutts in 2009, in what was the biggest staff move in Singapore's private banking sector at the time. According to the bank's website, it was established in Lugano in 1873, making it one of the oldest Swiss banks. It was bought by Italian insurer Generali in 1998 and was sold to Brazilian investment bank BTG Pactual last year. Its new Brazilian owner kept the BSI brand and identity, using it as a platform to globalise the business. BSI has around US$100 billion (S$142.6 billion) in client assets and about 2,000 employees, according to a newspaper report in July 2014. BSI spokesman Luciano Crobu said its branch in Singapore, located at Suntec City, has about 240 people and is focused on servicing clients in South-east Asia. He added that no one single market accounts for more than 20 per cent of its global assets under management. The bank's chief executive here is Mr Hanspeter Brunner, a Swiss national and a Singapore permanent resident since 2005. BSI might very well be just one of several banks caught up in the 1MDB investigation, which political pundits warn is an issue that Singapore will have to handle with care, given the importance of maintaining good relations with Malaysia. Dr Mustafa Izzuddin, a research fellow at the Iseas-Yusof Ishak Institute, said one approach would be to make it loud and clear that the investigation at this end is being conducted as a matter of upholding the rule of law. "The most viable approach is to focus on the facts, and not on polemics, which is exactly what Singapore is doing now," he added. "It is essential for Singapore not to be tangled up in the volatile domestic politics of Malaysia and not to pass judgments or point the finger at anyone, most notably, the Prime Minister of Malaysia." Dr Alan Chong, a political scientist at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, agreed, adding it is also in Malaysia's best interest not to criticise Singapore's investigation and politicise the matter. RHTLaw Taylor Wessing partner Nizam Ismail noted that, regardless, Singapore has to press on with the probe as it is a matter of maintaining its reputation as an international financial hub. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) have their work cut out for them, he added. "In terms of next steps, MAS will ascertain whether banks have complied with anti-money laundering regulatory requirements - to see if their monitoring programme had been sufficiently robust to flag certain transactions as suspicious... to scrutinise decisions taken by the compliance and management teams of banks, and whether the banks had filed suspicious transaction reports," said Mr Nizam. The CAD, meanwhile, may investigate if any person or entity had engaged in money laundering, and possibly follow up with prosecution and confiscation orders in court, he added, noting that this work could take many months. "Money laundering investigations are very complex, especially when it comes to reconstructing money and documentary trails, and obtaining evidence which can be used in court."
February 3, 2016

RHT Rajan Menon Foundation appoints Associate Professor Ho Peng Kee as Patron

RHT Rajan Menon Foundation is delighted to announce the appointment of Associate Professor Ho Peng Kee as its Patron. The Foundation, which was set up in 2015 and named after RHTLaw Taylor Wessing’s Senior Partner Rajan Menon, serves as a vehicle through which RHTLaw Taylor Wessing and the RHT Group of Companies pursue charitable endeavours. Since its launch last year, the Foundation has held various events including a charity golf event and a movie night to raise funds for charities and conservation causes, as well as community outreach to underprivileged children.   On the appointment of Associate Professor Ho, RHT Rajan Menon Foundation’s Chairman Tan Chong Huat said, “We are truly honoured and privileged that Associate Professor Ho has agreed to take on the role of Patron of the Foundation notwithstanding the multiple volunteerism causes that he is already serving. We have immense regard for his heart for and dedication to community care and causes and look forward to his support as Patron.”   On his new appointment, Prof Ho said, “I am happy to join Chong Huat, a former student of mine at the NUS Law Faculty and one-time adjunct lecturer at the Faculty, in helping to steer the Foundation’s support of worthy causes. I see it as an extension of what I had done whilst at Minlaw - driving efforts to encourage our lawyers to do pro-bono work and to support charitable causes. I hope that the Foundation will play a leading role to get more law firms and lawyers to step up in their pro-bono and corporate social responsibility efforts.”   Associate Professor Ho Peng Kee retired as Senior Minister of State for Law and Home Affairs in May 2011 after a political career that spanned 20 years from 1991 to 2011. Prior to joining politics full-time, he was a law don for 14 years at the National University of Singapore (NUS) where he taught Law of Contracts and Commercial Transactions and held the positions of Sub-Dean and Vice-Dean. He has a Bachelor’s degree from the Singapore University and a Master’s degree from Harvard Law School.   After his political career, Associate Professor Ho returned to the Law Faculty, NUS on a part-time basis as an Associate Professorial Fellow. He continued his links with the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Law, serving pro-bono as Chairman of the Home Team Volunteer Network Steering Committee and as Chairman of an Advisory Committee on Community Mediation.   Associate Professor Ho is actively involved in community service as a volunteer. He serves as Patron/Advisor to about 10 civic and voluntary welfare organisations promoting causes such as mediation, sports, Chinese opera, youth leadership and entrepreneurship, fighting children's cancer and looking after the elderly and intellectually-disabled. He was also recently appointed a Justice of the Peace.
January 27, 2016

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing ranked in Asian Legal Business 2016 CSR List

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing is one of the 25 law firms in Asia recognised as a Firm passionate in playing their part as a good corporate citizen by Asian Legal Business (ALB) in 2016. Only three other Singaporean firms were on the list. RHTLaw Taylor Wessing was also recognised in 2015. ALB highlighted the Firm’s active role in fundraising, participating in legal aid clinics and donation drives. This announcement further reinforces the great work done by the RHT Rajan Menon Foundation. The Foundation’s mission is to provide a framework, platform and channel for corporate social responsibility initiatives and activities.
January 26, 2016

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Chairman Professor Walter Woon SC featured in the National University of Singapore’s News Highlights

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Chairman Professor Walter Woon SC, was featured in an article in the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) News Highlights segment titled “ASEAN Needs rules-based culture”. The article highlighted Professor Woon’s speaking engagement at the David Marshall Lecture titled “Building Rules-Based ASEAN Community: Strengthening the Centre” where he shared his first-hand experience as a Singapore representative drafting the ASEAN charter. Honourable guests who attended the event included Professor Jayakumar, former Deputy Prime Minister, and Chairman  of NUS Law Advisory Council and CIL; Professor Tommy Koh, Singapore’s Ambassador-at-Large and CIL Chairman; and Mr George Yeo, former Singapore Foreign Affairs Minister. The full article dated 26 November 2015 can be found here on the NUS website.