MAS Slaps Extra Capital Requirement on OCBC Over SMS Scam

The Monetary Authority of Singapore has imposed an additional capital requirement of about S$330 million ($240 million) on Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp., citing deficiencies in the bank’s response to SMS phishing scams in December, the regulator said in an emailed statement.

OCBC will be required to apply a multiplier of 1.3 times to its risk-weighted assets for operational risk, MAS said. This translates into the additional amount of capital.

“Financial institutions have a duty to put in place robust measures to prevent, detect and respond to scams,” Marcus Lim, assistant managing director of banking and insurance at MAS, said in the statement. “This means ensuring that their controls remain effective against evolving scam tactics, and prompt actions are taken as soon as a scam is detected.”

MAS will review the additional capital requirement when it’s satisfied OCBC has addressed all deficiencies, it said.

The scam was unprecedented and the campaign’s tactics “reached a level of realism not seen in previous phishing scams,” OCBC Chief Executive Officer Helen Wong said in a statement. “While we took various actions in December to stem the scam, we should have responded faster and better to early signs of the attacks.”

OCBC said in late January that it had made goodwill payments to 790 customers who fell prey to the text message phishing scam impersonating the lender. About 80% of the amount lost occurred during the Dec. 23-30 festive period, at which time calls to the bank’s contact center surged by more than 40%, OCBC said at the time.  –Bloomberg