Corporate service providers who perform statutory filings for their customers using ACRA’s electronic filing system (known as Bizfile) will need to be registered as filing agents. The professionals whom the filing agents employ or appoint will need to be registered as qualified individuals. Both filing agents and qualified individuals must be fit and proper persons and satisfy competency and experience requirements.
The amendment is expected to see new requirements on registered filing agents, through the subsidiary legislation. These requirements will be consistent with the relevant Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations, including the obligations to perform customer due diligence and transaction monitoring on customers, and to consider whether it is necessary to file suspicious transaction reports. For example, as part of customer due diligence, registered filing agents will be required to obtain beneficial ownership information of their customers. The availability of beneficial ownership information increases the transparency of transactions and makes it more difficult for money laundering and terrorism financing activities to be carried out. The legislative amendments is expected to raise the professional standards of corporate service providers in Singapore, and significantly reduce risks of money laundering and terrorism financing.
The amendments also introduce enforcement powers for ACRA to sanction registered filing agents and registered qualified individuals who breach their legal obligations. These sanctions include issuance of a censure, suspension or cancellation of registration, or financial penalties. ACRA will 3 take a calibrated approach in imposing sanctions, taking into account the seriousness and/or frequency of the breach.
The maximum composition sum for offences that ACRA may impose will be increased from $1,000 currently to half of the maximum fine or $5,000, whichever is lower.