Protecting the Privacy of Directors, CEOs and Company Secretaries in Singapore

Protecting Privacy Directors, CEO and Company Secretary

A couple of years ago, the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority of Singapore (ACRA) introduced new amendments to a highly controversial provision of the Companies Act. The changes allowed Singapore’s companies to register an alternate address for their directors, CEOs, and secretaries.

While some business owners have taken full advantage of this opportunity, unfortunately, not many companies are aware of such amendments and make use of the new provision. Hence, this article will highlight all the essential pieces of information that people need to know about the latest revision.


ACRA Regulation Changes Allowing Directors, CEOs, and Company Secretaries of Singaporean Companies to Register an Alternate Address

ACRA maintains the public registry of every companies incorporation in the country. Any interested person can buy profile information for each company for a small fee. The company’s profile details include the actual residential address of shareholders, officers, and directors of the company.

Though the regulation indeed promotes transparency in the corporate perspective, ACRA received several criticisms with regards to the public disclosure of the individual’s data due to the affiliation with the company.

In response to the negative feedbacks, ACRA introduced legislative amendments in the Companies Act a few years ago. This new regulation allows individuals to provide an alternate address in place of their residential address in the ACRA register as part of the company’s profile data.


Benefits and Importance of Registering an Alternate Address

Before the implementation of the new amendment, company officers in all Singapore-registered companies were required to provide their particulars, which included their residential address, to the ACRA.

Whether the residence is local or abroad, an officer had to comply with the said provision. This approach allowed ACRA to be able to contact them immediately when the need arises.

The officers’ residential address became part of the company’s profile and was made public. Any interested individual can purchase the same information for a small price of only SGD 50.

The literal public disclosure of company profiles allowed some entities to establish mailing lists for high-profile officers. This led to an overwhelming quantity of mail and solicitations reaching the officers at their home address. Moreover, the increased possibility of an aggrieved client quickly accessing the house of a senior officer was even more worrying.

However, by taking advantage of the new regulation, the officers’ residential addresses will only be stored on internal records while the alternate address will be made public. Hence, companies can now eliminate such risks and safeguard the privacy and safety of their senior officers.


Conditions and Requirements for the Registration of an Alternate Address

To register an alternative address with ACRA, companies need to meet specific criteria, including:

  • Registering only one alternate address per officer
  • The alternate address should not be similar to the officers’ residential address
  • The alternative address cannot be a post office (P.O.) box number
  • The alternate address must be in a location within the same jurisdiction as that of the officers’ residential address
  • The alternative address must be contactable

Also, the companies need to fulfil some conditions when registering the alternate address. Some of these conditions are as follow:

  • Companies must still provide their officers’ residential address to ACRA
  • If for whatever reason, the alternative address is inaccurate, the residential address will get published after allowing the individual to make representations.

Aside from directors, CEOs, and company secretaries in Singapore, the following individuals are also permitted to register their alternative addresses:

  • Foreign companies’ directors registered under the Companies Act
  • Individuals registered under the new Business Names Registration Act
  • Public accountants reported the Accountants Act
  • Managers or partners of a partnership with limited liability
  • Local managers or partners with a limited partnership

The companies’ officers can register their alternative address to ACRA with a one-time registration fee of only SGD 40. When changing an alternate address, no charges will be required. Similarly, no fees will be needed when the officers wish to alter their alternative address to residential address.

Nevertheless, the caveat of this new amendment is that previous records of residential address that are registered before the 3rd of January, 2016, will remain accessible for the public.


Usage of Residential Address

When officers report their alternate address to ACRA, at the same time, they must also report their residential address and changes. However, if an individual has notified the change of his or her residential address under the National Registration Act, he will be deemed to have reported to ACRA. The residential address recorded in ACRA will be protected from disclosure when an alternate address gets published in the register.


Replacement and Legal Liability of non-compliant alternate address 

ACRA has the authority to replace ineffective and unresponsive alternate addresses. Before deciding to replace the alternative address from the registers, ACRA will send a “show cause” letter and consider representations for the involved officers.

If officers are liable for registering an unresponsive alternate address, they may have to settle fines of up to SGD 10,000 or get imprisoned for less than two years, or both. After the removal of their alternate address from the registers, their residential address will be available for public inspection.

Additionally, the officers will get barred from using and reporting alternate addresses for three years. After the prohibition period ended, they must pay the registration fee.


Hiring a Reliable Company Registration Firm

With the probability of facing such grave penalties, it is thus crucial for the officers to seek professional advice from credible company incorporation services in Singapore.


Posted in Company Incorporation, Company Secretarial Service.