Enhanced regulatory framework for corporate service providers to kick in on May 15

SINGAPORE - An enhanced regulatory framework for corporate service providers (CSPs) to combat money laundering and terrorism financing will take effect from May 15.

The strengthened regime for CSPs will help to further boost Singapore's reputation as a trusted international financial and business centre with robust regulatory frameworks against money laundering and terrorism financing, the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra) said in a press release.

The enhancement will also raise the professional standards of the CSP sector.

The requirements of the new regime are aligned with recommendations issued by the Financial Action Task Force, the global standard setter for anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing.

CSPs are individuals or business entities that provide services as a business to third parties such as acting as a formation agent of legal persons.

The new CSP regime seeks to ensure that CSPs which help to set up companies conduct the requisite due diligence checks and have robust systems and processes in place to prevent abuse of such corporate vehicles for criminal or other illegitimate purposes.

Under the enhanced regulatory framework, persons wishing to provide CSP services will need to register as Filing Agents (FAs) and Qualified Individuals (QIs).

The framework imposes terms and conditions on FAs and QIs, and sets out the range of sanctions that Acra may impose on errant FAs and QIs who breach these terms and conditions.

To aid CSPs in understanding these new legal requirements, Acra, together with a working group comprising representatives from the Singapore Association of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators, Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants, The Law Society of Singapore, Association of International Accountants, and Institute of Company Accountants, have prepared a set of draft guidelines.

Acra also conducted a series of seminars from June to October 2014 to explain the policies in the new legislation and prepare CSPs for the new regime.

More than 3,400 CSPs have attended the seminars.