SFC slaps HK$3.5m fine on HSBC Investment Funds and HSBC Global Asset Management

Maria Nikolova

The Hong Kong regulator fines the companies for breaches of regulatory requirements in relation to cash management for SFC-authorized funds.

Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) today announces that it has reprimanded and imposed a HK$3.5 million fine on HSBC Investment Funds (Hong Kong) Limited (HIFL) and HSBC Global Asset Management (Hong Kong) Limited (HGAML) for breaches of regulatory requirements in relation to cash management for SFC-authorized funds.

The SFC’s investigation has revealed that some of the 53 funds managed and/or advised by HIFL and HGAML between 2010 and 2016 maintained cash deposits with connected entities, namely, The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited and/or its affiliates. The funds’ cash deposits were placed in interest-bearing accounts of the connected entities but mostly did not receive any interest.

An independent review revealed that before January 2015, HIFL and HGAML had not implemented procedures to ensure that the funds’ cash deposited with their connected entities received interest at a rate not lower than the prevailing commercial rate.

In addition, the review found that whereas HIFL and HGAML had an established process to monitor the funds’ cash balances on a daily basis, such process was not documented in any policies and procedures and was performed for only 10 of the 53 funds.

The regulator concludes that HIFL’s and HGAML’s internal controls and procedures on cash management of the funds at the material time were inadequate and they failed to manage and minimise the conflicting interests between their connected entities and the funds’ investors.

In determining the sanctions, the SFC considered all the circumstances, including that HIFL and HGAML:

  • agreed to make a voluntary payment of US$433,257 to the affected funds, representing the financial impact arising from their failures;
  • engaged an independent reviewer to conduct the review and took remedial actions to strengthen their internal systems and controls;
  • undertook to provide the SFC with a report prepared by an independent reviewer within nine months confirming that all identified concerns have been properly rectified;
  • cooperated with the SFC in resolving its concerns and have no previous disciplinary record with the SFC.

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