Government Agency To Protect Companies From Fake Organisations07 Jul 2014
Date: 7 July 2014
Parliamentary Question by Ms Mary Liew:
To ask the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance (a) whether there is a Governmental agency that asks companies to verify and provide company information within two weeks and to warn that their companies will be deleted from the Singapore Company Register database if they do not do so; (b) what are the steps taken to address and protect companies from providing private information to fake organisations; and (c) what are the penalties for unauthorised action from fake organisations and how many of such occurrences have happened in the past five years.
Reply by DPM and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam:
There is no government agency that manages a database known as the “Singapore Company Register”, or that asks companies to verify and provide company information for such a database.
Under the Companies Act, the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) is the only statutory body that requires companies to file and provide business information (e.g. the principal place of business, company address and identity of the directors and their addresses) upon incorporation. ACRA may request companies to update their information if it is aware of discrepancies between the information filed and those obtained from credible third-party sources. ACRA will notify companies via registered letters that bear ACRA’s letterhead. It will cite the relevant legal provisions and advise companies how they can update their details. In these letters, ACRA will not threaten to delete the information already filed with ACRA or to strike off the companies from its register.
While non-government organisations can collect business information from companies through private arrangements, there are safeguards against such organisations trying to pass themselves off as Government entities.
Companies and other business entities are required to state their name and registration number in all business correspondences, so that members of the public know the identity of the business entity that they are interacting with. ACRA takes any breach of this requirement seriously. Such a breach can be liable for a maximum fine of S$1,000. In the past four years, ACRA has investigated 10 business entities for failing to properly state their name and/or registration number.
Earlier this year, ACRA investigated a company which had sent out letters in November 2013 asking companies to lodge their information with its “Singapore Company Register” database. ACRA’s investigations revealed that the company had failed to display the company name and registration number in its letters. ACRA has brought 104 charges against the company under the Companies Act and the case is now before the State Courts. Concurrently, ACRA has referred the matter to the Commercial Affairs Department for further investigations.
If in doubt of the identity of any business entity, the public can make use of the free business entity search function on ACRA's website to verify its identity.