Malaysia Issued The Most Fines in APAC For Financial Crimes and Privacy Breaches

Malaysia Issued The Most Fines in APAC For Financial Crimes and Privacy Breaches

by February 3, 2021

A recent study by Fenergo, provider of digital transformation, customer journey and client lifecycle management (CLM) solutions, found that Malaysia ranked the highest for data privacy fines in the APAC region totaling almost US$ 4 billion.

Meanwhile, neighbouring countries Singapore and Hong Kong came in third and fourth respectively at US$ 123,075,897 and US$ 107,806,257.

In APAC, the total of enforcement actions aimed at financial institutions and individuals increased to $5,180,199,367 in 2020. Among the notable findings of the annual report was the landmark action against Goldman Sachs totaling $6.8 billion from multiple regulators for its involvement in 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MBD) scandal including the second biggest enforcement action imposed against one bank since 2015.

Regulators in APAC, including the Malaysia Securities Commission and AUSTRAC in Australia, were among those handing out the biggest enforcement actions to banks involved in the 1MBD scandal and the Australian bank embroiled in a high-profile money-laundering scandal.

The number of data privacy fines issued in the APAC region increased significantly with a large $529,027 fine issued in India and seven fines issued in China totaling $6,338,969.

However, the U.S. Department of Justice was also more punitive this year, issuing enforcement actions totaling $1,924,071,850 to Goldman Sachs, Bank Hapoalim and Union Bancaire Privée.

The findings on global financial institution fines show that in 2020, penalties have totaled $10.6 billion for non compliance with Anti-Money Laundering (AML), Know your Customer (KYC), data privacy and MiFID (Markets in Financial Instruments Directive) regulations.

Rachel Woolley, Global Director of Financial Crime at Fenergo

Rachel Woolley

“There have been two notable shifts, APAC has overtaken the US in terms of the value of enforcement actions for the first time since 2015 – driven by recent FATF activity and the repercussions of the 1MDB scandal, and there has been an increased focus on individuals being penalised than we have seen in previous years.


In addition to imposing penalties on financial institutions, regulators and authorities in China, the UK and the US have held individuals accountable for compliance failings. While banks may hold reserves explicitly to settle enforcement actions, individuals will suffer a far greater personal impact. This along with greater whistleblowing protection and incentives will make a difference in tackling the industry-wide issue of financial crime.”

said Rachel Woolley, Global Director of Financial Crime at Fenergo.

Marc Murphy, CEO, Fenergo

Marc Murphy

“It is estimated that fewer than 1% of criminal funds laundered through the financial system gets confiscated by authorities. The recent FinCEN files has proven that the industry must work better together to address this growing problem.


We must establish a common best practice and replace onerous manual Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti Money Laundering (AML) risk assessment and compliance processes with technology and tools that enable financial institutions, authorities and non financial firms to better detect and prevent financial crime.”

said Marc Murphy, CEO, Fenergo.