Bogus Charges for Business Registration Services29 Feb 2016
Parliamentary Question by Mr Lim Biow Chuan:
To ask the Minister for Finance what actions are taken by the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) to protect companies or businesses from being misled or deceived into paying for registration services purportedly rendered by ACRA or its related agencies.
Reply by Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat:
1. The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority or ACRA is the only statutory body responsible for the registration of companies and businesses in Singapore.
2. ACRA does not condone any attempt to use its name or a name resembling that of ACRA’s to deceive or cause confusion to the public. ACRA will not hesitate to investigate suspected breaches and prosecute offenders. Under the ACRA Act, an offender will face a maximum penalty of $10,000 and six-month imprisonment, as well as a further fine of up to $250 per day for a continuing offence after conviction.
3. While non-government organisations can collect information from companies through private agreements, there are safeguards against such organisations trying to pass themselves off as Government entities. Letters from government agencies, such as ACRA, have distinct letterheads, with their names and logos. Companies and other business entities are also required to state their name and registration number in all business correspondences. Those who breach this requirement are liable for a maximum fine of $1,000. In the past four years, ACRA has investigated ten business entities for failing to properly state their name and/or registration number.
4. In addition to having these safeguards in place, companies should exercise vigilance when dealing with any unsolicited letter or email from third parties. First, companies should check the identity of the third party or check with ACRA before engaging third parties. Companies can make use of the free business entity search function on ACRA’s website to verify the identity of the third party. Second, companies should peruse carefully all the terms and conditions set out by the third party before entering into any form of agreement. Third, companies should alert ACRA if there are any suspected wrongdoings or misrepresentations by third parties. Where companies become a victim, they should make a police report.