The Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) yesterday fined Shin Kong Life Insurance Co (新光人壽) NT$27.6 million (US$939,415) for a reckless investment that endangered its solvency, and suspended its chairman Eugene Wu (吳東進) for poor supervision.
The penalty is the second-highest in a single case after Nan Shan Life Insurance Co (南山人壽) was fined NT$30 million in September last year and its chairman Du Ying-tzyong (杜英宗) suspended for two years, the commission said.
In three rounds of special and regular examinations conducted since last year, the commission found that Shin Kong Life had given too much power to an asset and liability management committee on investment decisions, without any checks, Insurance Bureau Director-General Shih Chiung-hwa (施瓊華) told a news conference in New Taipei City.
Photo: Kao Shih-ching, Taipei Times
The committee, led by Wu, increased its investment by NT$96.66 billion in several US stocks and exchange-traded funds in two consecutive days in January, ignoring warnings from the insurer’s risk management department, Shih said.
However, as US stocks tumbled, the insurer’s value-at-risk, a measure of the risk of investment loss given market conditions, increased to 43.33 percent by the end of March 27, which was 2.75 times higher than the 15.73 percent limit set by the insurer’s board members, Shih added.
The investment also caused the insurer’s equity-to-asset ratio, a key solvency gauge, to fall to 2.2 percent as of the end of March, below the regulatory minimum of 3 percent, she added.
“Even though the firm’s risk-based capital ratio dropped below the board member’s goal of 250 percent, the committee did not discuss how to improve it. There were no minutes of the committee’s meetings, which indicates poor internal controls,” Shih said.
Wu, who should have ensured the firm’s financial strength and solvency, on the contrary weakened them by allowing the committee not to report to the board of directors and appointing more than half of the committee’s 16 members, so the commission suspended his chairmanship and barred him from becoming a board member until his term ends in June 2023, she said.
“We expect the insurance company to get back on track by overhauling its mechanisms for investment and risk management while Wu is absent,” Shih said.
The commission also dismissed Shin Kong Life vice president and chief investment officer James Yuan (袁宏隆), as he ignored risks by taking on fixed-income stocks with poor liquidity, asking the firm’s research team to revise reports so that the investment team could invest in targets and make at-the-close orders in the local stock market to boost its asset valuations.
The commission said that it has lowered the insurer’s ratio of overseas investment to a total investment of 39 percent, from 43 percent, which means that the firm can only sell its foreign assets and cannot buy any new targets until the ratio drops, it added.
The commission did not set a deadline for Shin Kong Life to trim the ratio, but demanded that it not buy any local or foreign stocks and exchange-traded funds before the adjustment is completed, Shih said.
Facebook Inc on Wednesday reported its profit doubled in the second quarter as digital advertising surged, but warned of cooler growth in the months ahead in an update that sent its shares sinking. Profit rose to US$10.4 billion on revenue of US$29 billion, a 56 percent increase from last year, mainly from an increase in ad revenue, Facebook said. The number of people using the social network monthly climbed to 2.9 billion, a year-on-year gain of 7 percent, while about 3.5 billion people used at least one of the company’s apps, including Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger. “We had a strong quarter, as we
FURTHER TAX MEASURES NEEDED? Corporate owners accounted for almost 30 percent of empty houses, many of which are held by firms that own 10 or more properties The number of unoccupied houses nationwide totaled 876,000 units last year, or 11.94 percent of all houses, the Ministry of the Interior said in a report issued on Thursday. Almost 30 percent of empty houses were owned by companies, suggesting that many corporate property owners engage in house hoarding, the ministry said. Excluding developers and builders, companies still owned 20 percent of empty houses, it said. The report is based on housing units’ electricity use and considers properties that use less than 60 kilowatt-hours per month as unoccupied. The study contradicts Ministry of Finance reports saying that house hoarding subsided and there is no
HIGH-END MARKET: The company has sufficient growth upsides in its four major business segments to reach revenue of US$20 billion, CEO Rick Tsai told investors MediaTek Inc (聯發科), the world’s biggest supplier of 5G smartphone chips, yesterday raised its revenue growth target for this year to more than 45 percent, after strong demand mainly for its mid-range and premium 5G chips pushed net profit to a record high last quarter. The Hsinchu-based chip designer had three months earlier projected a 40 percent growth from NT$322.16 billion (US$11.48 billion) last year. MediaTek expects next year to be another growth year, with a higher 5G penetration rate and accelerating digital transformation during the post-COVID-19 pandemic era. The company also gained confidence about its gross margin improvement on the expectation
CAUSE INVESTIGATED: The incident occurred early in the morning, when electricity demand was low, and did not result in a power outage or a radiation leak, Taipower said The No. 2 reactor at the Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Wanli District (萬里) experienced a malfunction that triggered an automatic shutdown early yesterday morning, Taiwan Power Co (Taipower, 台電) said. The exact cause of the incident is still being investigated, but there is no risk of a radiation leak, the state-run utility said. “While we are still investigating the exact cause, the automatic shutdown was safely executed and there is no danger from radiation,” Taipower spokesman Chang Ting-shu (張廷舒) said. The malfunction occurred at 6:33am, triggering an emergency shutdown, taking 985 megawatts of power offline, Chang said. The control