CATEGORY: PRESS RELEASES
Singapore, 8 September 2021 – The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) had cancelled the registration of a filing agent, MEA Business Consultancy Pte Ltd (MBC), and barred it for a period of two years from 8 March 2021 to 7 March 2023. Cancellation is the most severe measure in the Registered Filing Agent (RFA) framework introduced in 2015. This is first time ACRA has cancelled the registration of a filing agent for anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) breaches.
2 A business entity that provides corporate secretarial services, such as helping clients to incorporate a company, file annual returns or meet the requirements of the Companies Act must first be registered with ACRA as an RFA. RFAs play an important role as gatekeepers to prevent illicit activities in the business ecosystem. RFAs must exercise due diligence and ensure internal policies, practices and controls are in place to guard against money laundering and financing of terrorism. 29 severe AML/CFT breaches found
3 MEA Business Consultancy Pte Ltd (MBC), a registered filing agent, was engaged by MEA Business Solutions Pte Ltd (MEA) to set up 14 local companies and to provide corporate secretarial services. Among other regulatory requirements, MBC was required by law to conduct due diligence to establish the identities of the beneficial owners of the registered entities, but ACRA’s inspection found that MBC had failed to do so. Some of these local companies were subsequently used by MEA for cheating offences which were investigated by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB).
4 In all, MBC had committed 29 severe AML/CFT breaches, including: Failure to inquire on the existence of any beneficial owner; Failure to document the details of risk assessment when performing diligence measures; Failure to conduct on-going monitoring of every business relationship with a customer; and Failure to establish and maintain appropriate and risk-sensitive internal policies, procedures and controls to prevent activities related to money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
5 In view of the multiple severe AML/CFT breaches, ACRA has cancelled MBC’s registration as an RFA, and barred it from acting as an RFA, for a period of two years from 8 March 2021 to 7 March 2023.
Publication of Sanctions on RFAs on ACRA’s Register
6 ACRA would like to remind all RFAs to take their AML/CFT obligations seriously. Those found to have committed any breach could face severe sanctions of financial penalties of up to $25,000 per breach and have their registration suspended or cancelled. “Corporate service providers play a crucial role in helping to detect and combat illicit activities, and uphold Singapore’s reputation as a trusted business hub. We take a serious view of any breach of AML/CFT regulations and will not hesitate to take enforcement action against any offenders,” said Ms Kuldip Gill, ACRA’s Assistant Chief Executive (Accounting and Compliance Group).
7 The names of RFAs whose registration have been suspended or cancelled are published on BizFile+ (ACRA’s business filing and information portal) and ACRA’s website.
8 Anyone who has reason to believe that an RFA has breached its regulatory obligations should report the matter to ACRA at ED_Investigations@acra.gov.sg.
 This means that MBC will not be able to provide their clients with filing services with ACRA.
ACCOUNTING AND CORPORATE REGULATORY AUTHORITY
8 Sep 2021