UOB closes China and Hong Kong outlets, halts events in SG

Singaporean banking organisation United Overseas Bank (UOB) will be closing its commercial banking centre in Kwun Tong, Hong Kong from 3 February 2020 to 14 February 2020. This comes following the closure of two banking outlets in Shanghai and Beijing offices, with a small number of colleagues in the office to support critical business and customer services. UOB was quick to add that it does not have operations in Hubei province, the capital city of Wuhan.

UOB Hong Kong said in a statement that it apologises for any inconvenience the Kwun Tong temporary closure may cause, and referred customers to its other outlets in the city. The bank said that it is currently monitoring the novel coronavirus situation closely, and will continue to take proactive and precautionary actions necessary to combat the spread of virus. According to UOB, it has put in place work-from-home arrangements, split office measures and arranged for meetings to be held via tele- or video-conference in Hong Kong.

Meanwhile, in Singapore, the banking organisation has temporarily halted and/or postponed large scale internal meetings and public gatherings. This includes roadshows, workshops and events. In a media statement, UOB said it has restricted overseas business travel and implemented split shifts for staff members. This will however, not disrupt the online services, the bank added.

Following the raising of the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) Alert Level from yellow to orange, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has also issued an advisory for financial institutions in Singapore to adopt additional measures and precautions. According to MAS, financial institutions are to maintain effective internal controls across their operations should split team arrangements be implemented, anticipate and be prepared to manage any increase in demand for certain financial services, inform customers promptly of the availability of services and operating hours, as well as constantly monitoring and supporting staff morale.

The MAS also alerted financial institutions to remain vigilant on the cyber security front, as there have been cases of cyber threat actors taking advantage of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) situation to conduct email scams, phishing and ransomware attacks. MAS said that scammers impersonated as MOH contact tracing officials, and requested financial information from individuals.

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