Two Singapore firms fined for breaching Companies Act

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - Two local firms - Data Register and its associated company Singapore Data Register - have been convicted and fined a total of $4,500 by the State Courts on June 4, the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra) said in a statement on Tuesday (June 16).

Data Register, formerly known as Company Register, had pleaded guilty to one charge for failing to hold its annual general meeting in 2017, one charge for failing to file annual returns, and three charges for failing to have its registered office open to the public on three days in July and August 2018, Acra said. A further six charges for the same breaches were taken into consideration by the State Courts during sentencing.

Data Register was fined $3,000.

Singapore Data Register, which shares the same registered office as Data Register, also pleaded guilty to three charges for failing to have its office open to the public on the same three days in 2018. A further four charges for the same breach were taken into consideration.

Singapore Data Register was fined $1,500.

Acra previously brought a total of 1,104 charges against Data Register for failing to display the company name and registration number in the 139,833 business letters mailed out in October and November 2013.

"The letters had led to public disquiet, with many members of the public mistakenly assuming that Data Register was linked to Acra, and that they were obliged to provide the requested information," Acra said.

In May 2016, Data Register pleaded guilty to a total of 500 charges and was subsequently fined $200,000.

Investigations revealed that since 2014, Data Register had pursued those businesses that had subscribed to its services to demand that these subscribers make payment to Singapore Data Register for outstanding fees between August and October 2018, Acra said.

"By failing to keep its office open to the public, Data Register and Singapore Data Register would have denied these subscribers the means to visit the companies' office to make inquiries, settle payments in person, or serve legal process," the authority said.

In November 2013, Acra said an entity calling itself the Singapore Company Register had been requesting companies to verify their details with it, but that Acra had "no links whatsoever" to the entity and was investigating the matter.

Acra said then that letters by the Singapore Company Register claimed that companies which fail to verify their details would have their information deleted from the "Singaporean Company Register database" within one or two weeks of the date of the notice.

Company Register changed its name to Data Register in December 2013, about a month after Acra's alert.

Subsequently in January 2014, Acra issued another alert against Data Register for seeking payment from companies for its "subscription services". Media reports noted that Data Register had asked companies to pay $490 for supposedly using its "services".

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