Stricter rules for corporate service providers

SINGAPORE - A bill requiring corporate service providers such as accounting and law firms to abide by more stringent rules was introduced in Parliament on Monday, as part of efforts to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.

Under the proposed legislation, the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority will have greater enforcement powers, and can enter premises to investigate offences, obtain oral evidence, and take photos and videos.

The Bill comes in the wake of a recent national risk assessment study which found that corporate service providers are a potential problem area, as they have relatively less robust controls against money laundering and terrorist financing.

Firms these service providers help to incorporate may be used by criminals to set up opaque structures for illegal purposes, the study found.

A Bill to expand Singapore's protection of plants to include all genera and species was also introduced.

Currently, new varieties of 16 genera and species of plants, which include orchids, vegetables and aquatic plants, are eligible for protection, said the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS).

The expansion, coming under the Plant Varieties Protection (Amendment) Bill, will encourage further research and development investment into varieties with economic potential, IPOS said.

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