Acra proposes more data privacy for individuals in its business registers

The public is invited to give feedback on the proposed amendments, from now till Jan 28, 2022. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - The full identification numbers of all individuals and their residential addresses will no longer be available to the public, if proposed changes by the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra) go through.

Currently such information can be found  in Acra’s registers of companies and businesses.

The proposed amendments are aimed at striking a balance between corporate transparency and personal data privacy, said Acra.

It proposes to partially mask the identification numbers of all individuals in the registers and introduce a “contact address” as their default address that will be shown to the public.

Other proposed changes are aimed at data accuracy and improving filing convenience. They include empowering Acra to obtain data from specified government agencies for the purpose of filing and use data from specified entities to verify information on its register.

The public is invited to give feedback on the proposed amendments, from now till Jan 28 next year.

Acra said it regularly reviews and seeks public feedback on its legislation to foster a trusted and vibrant business environment in Singapore.

The latest round of proposals follow its public consultation on proposed amendments to the Companies Act (CA) in July last year.

They include the following proposed amendments to improve the transparency of beneficial ownership of companies and limited liability partnerships (LLPs) and reduce opportunities for their misuse for illicit purposes:

1. Remove the exemption of certain local companies from the requirement to maintain registers of nominee directors;

2. Require companies and LLPs to verify the accuracy of information in their register of controllers with their controllers annually;

3. Introduce a new penalty of up to $10,000 on any person who inadvertently, or without intent to mislead or defraud, makes any inaccurate or erroneous statement or information on beneficial ownership to the Registrar under the CA and LLP Act;

4. Increase the maximum fine for offences pertaining to the registers of controllers and nominee directors from $5,000 to $20,000; and

5. Extend the prescribed time for companies and LLPs to update their register of controllers from two business days to seven calendar days.

As part of its digitalisation plan, Acra also requires position holders and shareholders to provide e-mail addresses and mobile-phone numbers, and business entities to provide their business e-mail addresses.

Mr Andy Lim, 49, director of GF+A Global, a tiles specialist, said: “I think the proposed amendments are good. I think personal data of business owners should not be made available to the public. Also, some government agencies and banks have already been communicating via e-mails and sending text messages to our mobile phones. That is definitely more efficient.”

Other proposed amendments from Acra aim to streamline processes for service of summons and striking off to facilitate compliance.

The public can access the consultation documents on Acra’s website and the Reach consultation portal.

Those who wish to provide feedback can e-mail their comments to acra_public_consultation@acra.gov.sg by indicating “Public Consultation on Companies Act and other Acts” in the subject line.

Acra will publish a summary of the comments received, which will not disclose the identity of the respondents and will not separately address or acknowledge every comment received.

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