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StanChart faces probe in Singapore; CIMB Thai Bank to end credit card service

S&P Global Market Intelligence offers our top picks of banking news stories and more published throughout the week. Please note that some entries may have links to third-party sources that may require a subscription.

StanChart faces probe in Singapore, other regulatory updates

* Standard Chartered Plc is reportedly under scrutiny from regulators over the role its staff played in transferring US$1.4 billion of assets from Guernsey to Singapore. The Singapore and Guernsey regulators are reviewing the bank's processes and the way the transfers were handled, but they have not suggested that bank employees worked with clients to avoid the tax law.

* The People's Bank of China will cut the required amount of cash reserves for banks that boost lending to small businesses, beginning 2018. Separately, China's State Council announced that it is offering lower reserve requirement ratios for commercial banks that meet a certain lending threshold to small and micro businesses, startups and people below the poverty line, among others, to encourage lending to these sectors.

* Meanwhile, China's banking regulators have asked banks to clamp down on the use of consumer loans to fund home purchases, amid efforts to curb potential risks stemming from an overheated property market.

* Japan's Financial Services Agency is reportedly asking regional banks to improve their compliance with anti-money-laundering and counterterrorism financing rules following its survey of the banks earlier this year.

* The Hong Kong Monetary Authority unveiled seven initiatives, including a faster payment system, to open up "a new era of smart banking" in the city. The FPS, scheduled to launch in September 2018, will support the use of mobile phone numbers or email addresses for payments in Hong Kong dollars and Chinese renminbi.

M&A developments

* India's IDFC Ltd. and Shriram Group agreed to extend the deadline of their discussions regarding a potential merger of some of their financial services businesses to Nov. 8.

* IOOF Holdings Ltd. completed its acquisition of National Australia Bank Ltd. unit National Australia Trustees Ltd.

* IFCI Ltd. sold a 24% stake in Tourism Finance Corp. of India for 2.91 billion Indian rupees as part of its plan to exit noncore businesses or assets.

* Singapore-based United Overseas Bank Ltd. dissolved wholly owned subsidiary Far Eastern Bank Ltd., effective Oct. 1, following the latter's integration with the parent company.

* Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. acquired Australian property start-up REALas, which offers a unique algorithm to predict property prices.

* TISCO Financial Group PCL completed the acquisition of Standard Chartered Bank (Thai) PCL's retail banking business in Thailand.

Policy rate decisions

* The Reserve Bank of Australia kept its cash rate unchanged at a record-low of 1.50%.

* The monetary policy committee of the Reserve Bank of India decided to keep its policy rates unchanged as growth weakens and inflation rises.

* The State Bank of Pakistan decided to keep the policy rate at 5.75%.

In other news

* CIMB Group Holdings Bhd. said it has received all requisite approvals to close its Bahrain-based unit, CIMB Middle East BSC (C).

* CIMB Thai Bank PCL will no longer provide credit card services beginning Oct. 21, as it shifts toward digital payments.

* Bangladesh's central bank rejected City Bank Ltd.'s application to set up a subsidiary in Hong Kong.

* India-based Bandhan Bank plans to expand its branch network to 900 branches by March 2018 by adding 60 more branches to its existing network.

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