Higher fines for three company directors as Acra steps up deterrent measures

The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) logo at their office in International Plaza located at 10 Anson Road, taken on Aug 14, 2012. Regulators are stepping up action against company directors who have failed to comply with the
The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) logo at their office in International Plaza located at 10 Anson Road, taken on Aug 14, 2012. Regulators are stepping up action against company directors who have failed to comply with the Companies Act, with three errant directors fined double the usual amount on Monday, April 14, 2014. -- ST FILE PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Regulators are stepping up action against company directors who have failed to comply with the Companies Act, with three errant directors fined double the usual amount on Monday.

The directors, Lim Mee Lin and Teng Chee Wai from Indigoz ICHQS (Asia) Holdings and Doreen Lee Guat Beng from Rebecca Pte Ltd, were charged and convicted of the failure to hold an annual general meeting (AGM) and filing annual returns, both basic statutory requirements under the Companies Act.

All three had either multiple or repeat breaches of these two requirements and both companies were large, with a a share capital of at least $250,000.

As such, the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority's (Acra) legal officers who prosecuted the cases had argued for the imposition of higher fines.

The total court fines for the three directors amounted to $17,800, which is double what they would usually have received.

The prosecutors had argued that higher fines would serve as a deterrence for large companies with public interest that were persistently non-compliant with the two basic statutory requirements to hold an AGM and file their annual returns on time.

Every year, Acra issues about 10,000 summonses to offenders, 40 per cent of whom are repeat offenders.

While the large majority involves small companies, a small proportion involves larger companies which may be of public interest.

"Transparency is the lifeblood of the market. Directors need to take their statutory duties on annual reporting seriously," said Acra chief executive Kenneth Yap.

"Acra will spare no effort to ensure that the business information on our register is accurate and reliable, for the benefit of all market players."

Acra plans to take stern action against errant directors who have similar multiple or repeat breaches of the Companies Act, the regulator said in a statement.

"Acra will continue to press for high fines for repeat offenders, especially those involving large companies with multiple breaches," said Mr Andy Sim, the senior director of Acra's legal services and prosecution division.

Acra is also exploring other enforcement measures to raise compliance amongst directors, such as debarment for directors who fail to comply with statutory requirements.