STEPPING UP - ISSUE 33 (31 October 2015)
COMMITTEE NEWS:
Chairperson's Message

Dear Members,

 
The first quarter saw a good turn up for the joint presentations by EDB and Baker & McKenzie.Wong & Leow - Living and Investing through the Family Office in Singapore, which was held on 14 August 2015. The joint presentation by HMRC and Pinsent Masons - The Long Arm of UK Financial Crime Enforcement, which was held on 23 September 2015, also attracted a fairly large attendance. Based on the feedback that was collected from the attendees, we are pleased that both talks had provided good insights to all. For more information on each of these talks, please refer to the summary of the events.
 
On 11 and 12 November 2015, we will be hosting the STEP Asia Conference at the Marina Bay Sands. This event will see prominent speakers and many members from all over the world converging in Singapore to share knowledge, to network and possibly to conduct business. The program that has been set up for this conference covers a wide range of interesting matters relating to Asia - from increased Compliance, to Government Automatic Exchange of Information, to Philanthropy and many more. To those who have not yet register, please do so quickly to secure your seat. We look forward to seeing you there.
 
We are sure you would have seen a flyer that we sent out last month regarding the branch's partnership with Special Needs Trust Company Limited (SNTC). SNTC's focus is to enhance the financial security and well-being of those with special needs in Singapore. The branch would like to assist SNTC to bring awareness to the Trust industry in Singapore of the good work that SNTC carries out as well as to appeal to members to offer assistance. Your generosity is very much appreciated.
 
We have also launched a new look branch website. The re-vamped website aims to be much more up to date and user-friendly.
 
Last but not least, I want to congratulate the graduates of the STEP Certificate for Financial Services for successfully completing the course.
 

Thank you.
Linda Wong
Chairperson, STEP Singapore Branch
 

INDUSTRY NEWS & UPDATES:
“Up Close & Personal” – Interview with Mr. Ashley Ong
This section offers members an opportunity to become better acquainted with a STEP member affiliated with the Singapore Branch. Any member interested in being interviewed should contact the STEP (Singapore) Secretariat.
 
Name:
Ashley Ong
Designation & Role in Organisation: Executive Director of Lion Trust (Singapore) Limited
Years in Trust Industry: 20 years

Getting to know Ashley Ong

The book(s) I am currently reading is:

None at the moment but recently completed reading the book titled "Alex Ferguson - My Autobiography" where the author shares his thoughts on managing one of the world's largest football club with young millionaires that comes with huge egos.

The person(s) who has been my biggest influence is:

My mum, who has a 'never-give-up learning attitude" even at current old age of 75.

What I like most about my job/experiences in the trust industry is:

Being able to assist client in meeting their objectives. I come to realise that, whatever background the client is from, many of them do faces similar problem in succession or inheritance planning. However a solution that works for one family may not be acceptable to another even with similar problem. Hence when a solution meeting the client objective can be found, it is very satisfying.

My golden rule is:

Be honest and truthful.

The expression I loathe the most is:

Please send me an email ……

 
UPDATES & DEVELOPMENTS:
Post Event Updates
Post Event Update: Living and Investing through the Family Office in Singapore (14th August 2015 ) 12.00 pm - 2.00 pm, Intellioffices, Level 3, 146 Robinson Road, S(068909).
We were fortunate to have Ms Davina Khoo, Head, Singapore Welcome Centre, Economic Development Board and Ms Dawn Quek, Principal, Baker & McKenzie.Wong & Leow to share their experience and expertise with us during the lunchtime talk "Living and Investing through the Family Office in Singapore". This lunchtime session chaired by Ms Cathryn Lau, Director, UBS AG explored how the global investor programme managed by the Economic Development Board (EDB) interacted with the family office, the legal and regulatory aspects of establishing family offices in Singapore, and how such family offices can navigate the tax and regulatory environment in Singapore. The event was very attended with over 68 delegates.
Contributed by: Chee Fang Theng - Pan Asia Law LLC
Post Event Update: STEP Singapore - The Long Arm of UK Financial Crime Enforcement (23 September 2015 )12.00 pm - 2.00 pm, Intellioffices, Level 3, 146 Robinson Road, S(068909).
Did you know that the UK government now has a dedicated fiscal crimes officer based in Singapore as part of the UK's clamp down on aggressive tax avoidance and tax evasion? Participants at this well-attended seminar had the pleasure of meeting Mr David James, HMRC Fiscal Crime Liaison Officer, British High Commission in Singapore, face-to-face as well as hearing from a veteran UK tax and corporate crimes litigation lawyer, Mr Neil McInnes who is a partner at Pinsent Masons MPillay, Singapore.
Mr McInnes spoke on the continuing directional trend of increased fiscal transparency in the UK, especially in this new era of automatic information exchange. In particular, he highlighted the rising use of deferred prosecution agreements (DPAs) in the UK, following the success of the US Department of Justice's use of DPAs in the Swiss Bank program. Two UK DPAs are expected to be announced shortly, which will feature some of the following:
  • Deferral of corporate criminal liability only, without any guarantee of settlement and requiring full disclosure
  • Implementation of a judge-supervised process which provides safeguards that the DPA is "in interest of justice" and is fair, reasonable and proportionate
Importantly, the increased use of DPAs signals a move away from the more onerous task of establishing corporate criminal liability in English law towards a conception closer to the US vicarious liability, where a company may more readily be found liable for the actions of its employees.
Mr McInnes also discussed the UK's recently proposed new tax offences and enhanced penalties for tax evasion which include:
  • Strict liability criminal offence for individuals with a possible imprisonment sentence
  • Corporate liability for actions of a company's employees and the company's failure to prevent tax evasion, or failure to prevent facilitation of tax evasion
  • Application of the offence to any company whose agents (employees, contractors and authorised intermediaries) facilitate tax evasion overseas. This means that geographical location of the agent is irrelevant if the firm has a UK presence. However, having taken reasonable steps to prevent facilitation of tax evasion has been proposed as a corporate defence.
Providing the perspective of the UK HMRC, Mr James highlighted a noticeable and important shift of position in the UK regarding tax evasion. Whereas tax non-compliance cases in the past may have attracted mere civil liability, there was now keen political pressure to prosecute such cases to its fullest extent and to assign criminal liability, including imprisonment terms. This adds further impetus to the need for advisors to urge clients to regularise their UK financial affairs sooner rather than later.
Mr James noted that regularisation opportunities under the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility (LDF) remained available, with the most favourable conditions available only until 31 Dec 2015. The most valuable feature of the current LDF regime was the ability to secure immunity from prosecution, especially given UK's shift towards prosecuting tax cases going forward. Between 2016 and Sept 2017, penalties under the revised LDF would increase, and immunity from prosecution would cease to become available. Post-Sept 2017, the LDF would cease entirely. Mr James encouraged all advisors to assist their clients to review and scrutinise existing structures that were set up at a time when "things were done differently" to ensure they remained fit for purpose and appropriateness in the new normal of fiscal transparency.
Indeed it remains to be seen if the long arm of Uncle Sam will be challenged by the possibly even longer arm of the UK HMRC going forward.
The seminar ended with a certificate presentation ceremony for the recent graduates of the STEP Certificate for Financial Services - Singapore (Trusts and Estate Planning) program. Congratulations to our graduates, especially the top three students for this cohort:
  1. Mr John Sim Wei Tai
  2. Ms Winny Sim
  3. Mr Clarence Foo En Luen
Contributed by: Chan Ee Lin - Singapore Management University Lee Kong Chian School of Business
 
UPCOMING EVENT(s)
STEP Asia Conference 2015: The Future of Wealth Management In Asia (11-12 November 2015, 9am-6.30pm), Marina Bay Sands Singapore
The award winning STEP Asia Conference returns this year to Singapore. As well as a topical programme to support your business needs the conference offers exceptional networking opportunities - last year the conference attracted 400+ leading practitioners from 32 jurisdictions worldwide. The conference will begin with a discussion of the macro issues that impact the operating environment for the wealth management industry and will examine the innovation from practitioners in a highly complained focused regulatory environment. The second day will focus on the anatomy of the trust where discussion will be around the advisory to the families including cross border issues, family dispute resolutions, family succession plans and mental capacity issues. The programme will also feature specialist topics and interactive panel sessions. This conference has sold out the past five years so be sure to register early to secure your place.
For more information, click HERE.
Charity and Music Collide@ The National Museum-Funding for special needs Co (13 Nov 2015,6:30pm-9:00pm), The National Museum, 93 Stamford Road, S178897
STEP Singapore Branch is partnering the Special Needs Trust Co. (SNTC), a registered charity and Institution of Public Character, in a fund-raising musical night on Friday, 13th November 2015. SNTC was established in 2008 to enhance the financial security and wellbeing of persons with special needs through the provision of Trust Services. The objective of this event is to create the awareness of SNTC and to seek participation from the trust professionals. As professionals, we can participate in monetary terms and in rolling up our sleeves to help.
We would like to invite you for an evening of music and networking. Be serenaded by the popular classics performed by a string quartet and learn about the good work of SNTC. For a minimum donation of S$200 to SNTC, you will be entitled to a ticket to attend the charity event. All net proceeds will go towards helping the financially deserving parents and caregivers with the initial capital required to set up the Trust for their loved ones with special needs. In addition, the funds raised will qualify for a dollar-for-dollar matching donation from Singapore's National Council of Social Services under the SG50 Care and Share Movement Grant.
For more information, click HERE.
 
     

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