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Hong Kong companies will soon be required to disclose their UBOs, reports Healy Consultants
By: Healy Consultants
This proposal was floated last week during a public consultation organized by the Financial Services and Treasury Bureau (FSTB) of Hong Kong aimed at enhancing transparency. According to the consultation report, this marks another move by the Hong Kong government to prevent terror financing and money laundering.
If the said proposal is implemented, both privately and publicly owned companies registered in Hong Kong will be obliged to reveal their beneficial owners with significant control of the business, regardless of their individual status.
"What we have in mind is that we will be requiring all Hong Kong incorporated companies to disclose their beneficial ownership and keep the information in the registers," said Ada Chung Lai-ling, Hong Kong's Registrar of Companies, during a press interview.
The consultation paper defined a beneficial owner as anyone who enjoys the benefits of ownership of a legal entity by directly or indirectly holding more than 25% equity in a company, or who has significant influence and control to appoint or dismiss most of the company's directors.
"There is some controversy over whether the information of beneficial ownership should be open to the public, or available only to competent authorities such as law enforcement. We will be considering both sides of the argument," she added.
The law to disclose beneficial ownership of companies was first implemented by the UK in June 2016 and grants the public access to all company information. Singapore also passed a law early March this year to disclose registered companies' information although only to the Singapore law enforcement authorities.
Healy Consultants is a professional corporate services provider headquartered in Singapore since the year 2003. The company helps global entrepreneurs looking to establish their international businesses in Hong Kong in different sectors of the economy with, among others, company registration, tax and vat registration, assistance with obtaining business licenses and official business addresses, opening a corporate and merchant bank account and obtaining work or residence visas.