Corporate service providers will have to undergo new training programme: Acra

SINGAPORE - Corporate service providers (CSPs), such as lawyers and accountants, will soon have to undergo a new training programme as the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra) moves to further reduce the vulnerability of CSPs to illicit activities such as money laundering and terrorism financing.

This was announced by Acra chief executive Kenneth Yap on Tuesday morning (May 31), at the inaugural CSP Conference held at the Raffles City Convention Centre.

The new initiative comes just a year after the introduction of new regulations which required CSPs to be registered with Acra as registered filing agents and qualified individuals.

During his keynote speech to more than 400 CSPs, Mr Yap highlighted mounting global concern over possible abuse of financial systems and services for illicit purposes like tax evasion, money-laundering and terrorism financing.

He noted that CSPs, "who service a significant proportion of corporate clients here, are very much the first line of defence in the fight against such illicit movements of money".

Mr Yap added that "continuing education is vital to upholding standards of the industry, providing practical knowledge to filing agents on how to discharge their professional duties, as well as apprising them of latest developments in the sector".

At the conference, Mr Yap also announced that Acra will soon issue the first set of interpretations of specific legislative provisions known as Registrar's Interpretation (RI).

The RIs provide Acra's interpretation of how specific provisions are to be applied in practice, said Acra in a statement. While not legally binding, they help to provide practical solutions for non-contentious issues facing lawyers and CSPs without the need to clarify the law through litigation in court.

One such interpretation relates to the amalgamation of foreign companies - which Acra has already facilitated on a case by case basis for three foreign companies that have since amalgamated successfully.

"This has not only minimised unnecessary disruption to the foreign companies' existing operations and business in Singapore, but has also resulted in substantial time and cost savings to these companies," said Acra.