Singapore to amend financial crime rules for business service providers

Out-Law News | 23 Jun 2022 | 5:01 am | 1 min. read

Singapore’s Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) has proposed corporate governance and regulatory changes to boost the city-state’s compliance with global standards.

ACRA is consulting on proposed amendments to the Companies Act and ACRA Act,  as well as a new Corporate Service Providers Bill (CSP Bill). The proposals are designed to tackle recommendations by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) relating to the combating of money laundering, terrorism financing and financing of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

The reform package also seeks to tackle the risks arising from the abuse of nominee arrangements when creating shell companies to facilitate money laundering, and to impose new qualification requirements on individuals who serve as nominee directors on a business basis.

Mayumi Soh of Pinsent Masons MPillay, the Singapore joint law venture between MPillay and Pinsent Masons, said: “ACRA’s proposed bill and amendments will strengthen Singapore’s position as a secure commercial hub and seeks to prevent the city-state from being used as a vessel for illicit activity.”

The new CSP Bill proposed by ACRA would require all companies or individuals providing company secretarial services in and from Singapore to register as CSPs with ACRA, irrespective of whether they are required to deal with ACRA or not.

Under the proposals, registered filing agents (RFAs), corporate service providers (CSPs) and registered qualified individuals (ROIs) would be subject to harsher financial penalties if they violate the terms and conditions of registration. Violations of anti-money laundering (AML) or combating the financing of terrorism (CFT) obligations may result in fines if either violation is committed as a result of the connivance or negligence of directors, owners, or partners of CSPs.

The proposals also require nominee directors and shareholders to disclose their nominee status and their nominator’s identity. ACRA would need to maintain these details, and to make the records publicly available.

ACRA’s proposals also introduce a requirement for CSPs to ensure that individuals they appoint as nominee directors fulfil certain stipulated training requirements if they have over “one legally prescribed number of nominee directorship by way of business”.

ACRA has invited interested parties to participate in the public consultation on the proposals from 31 May 2022 to 19 July 2022.