Hong Kong Insurance Authority sanctions former agents for ethical breaches

Regulator reinforces industry integrity

Hong Kong Insurance Authority sanctions former agents for ethical breaches

Insurance News

By Roxanne Libatique

The Hong Kong Insurance Authority (IA) has executed disciplinary measures against three ex-insurance agents for failing to comply with the required standards of conduct and propriety necessary for the issuance of an insurance intermediary license.

Insurance agents falsify academic certificates

In two related incidents, the individuals involved were found to have submitted falsified academic documents to meet the educational prerequisites for becoming insurance agents, under the guidelines of the previously effective self-regulatory framework.

This misconduct led to a prohibition on the individuals' ability to reapply for an insurance intermediary license for a duration of three years. This sanction was imposed in light of the regulations active during the infraction period.

Under the contemporary regulatory framework, established by the Insurance Ordinance, the act of submitting counterfeit academic certificates as part of the licensing process is considered a criminal offense, with the IA holding the authority to pursue legal action to its full extent.

The IA also highlighted the responsibility of insurance companies in verifying the compliance of potential agents with all necessary fit and proper criteria, including the authentication of educational credentials.

The IA warned that any lapses in an insurer's vetting processes would lead to an immediate examination of its control mechanisms, with the company held accountable for any detected deficiencies.

Insurance agent breaches code of conduct

The third disciplinary action involved a former agent who also held a registration as a subsidiary intermediary under the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Ordinance (MPFSO).

The agent was penalised by the Mandatory Provident Funds Scheme Authority (MPFA) for engaging in activities that breached its code of conduct, specifically unauthorised client benefit transfers and impersonation to access client account details.

As the primary regulator for subsidiary intermediaries from the insurance industry, the IA determined that these actions not only contravened the MPFSO but also compromised the individual's suitability as an insurance intermediary. Consequently, a prohibition was applied concurrently with the MPFA's sanctions.

“These cases demonstrate the determination of the IA to use its disciplinary powers to reinforce the need for insurance intermediaries to be fit and proper persons to perform their role, thereby ensuring the insurance market continues to be founded on trust,” the IA said in a statement.

Last month, the IA released its annual report for the financial year 2022-23, outlining its efforts to position Hong Kong as a premier global risk management centre and a sophisticated insurance hub.

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