The Insurance Authority (IA) has taken disciplinary action against a former insurance agent who used a false academic certificate as proof of meeting the education requirements to be an insurance agent.
As the incident occurred under the previous self-regulatory regime and before the IA took over regulation of intermediaries, the case was handled using the previous rules, which resulted in the former agent being banned from the industry for two years.
According to the IA, the former agent submitted the bogus certificate in October 2018, when she originally applied with the Insurance Agents Registration Board under the former self-regulatory regime.
During the IA’s investigation, the former agent admitted that the academic certificate was falsified and that she had not studied at the school stated in the certificate. She also said that she did not meet the minimum education requirements to be a registered insurance agent, and that she had purchased the certificate via WeChat for RMB2,000 (SG$400).
Under the current rules administered by the IA, which came into effect on Sept. 23, 2019, using a falsified academic certificate is now a criminal offence, which carries a six-month prison sentence and a fine, currently set at HK$50,000.
The IA said that the former agent’s actions were “so contemptible as to demonstrate her complete lack of fitness and properness to perform the role for which she was applying. The public are entitled to trust the insurance intermediaries they deal with for their insurance needs. Trust demands ethical conduct and integrity of character. An individual who displays such a lack of ethics and integrity by using a false academic certificate in a submission to a regulator violates that trust. If an agent cannot be trusted to submit authentic documents to a regulator, she cannot be trusted to serve the public.”
The IA also reminded insurance companies that they should be more vigilant in their recruitment and on-boarding processes for new insurance agents and other personnel.