The Comprehensive Guide to Filing Annual Returns in Singapore

The Comprehensive Guide to Filing Annual Returns in Singapore

The Comprehensive Guide to Filing Annual Returns in Singapore

The filing and submission of annual returns to the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) is considered a necessary part of a company’s governance in Singapore and a legal requirement for all registered companies.

Many companies view annual filings as just another legal obligation, but according to Samantha Tai, Head of Corporate Secretarial, Asia of BoardRoom Group, it can play a role in the company’s governance which ultimately leads to the company’s overall success and sustainability, “Completing your corporate annual filing should not be treated as simply another legal obligation. Whilst the process may seem challenging, it serves to provide stakeholders with a concise view of the company’s governance. It can also be viewed as an opportunity to showcase your company’s commitment to compliance, accountability and transparency.”

In this guide, we help you understand the fundamentals of filing annual returns, including their significance, steps in annual filing and key considerations to ensure a smooth filing process.

What Is an Annual Return?

An annual return is an electronic form that every Singapore-registered company must lodge with ACRA in Singapore annually. It gives a comprehensive overview of your company’s current corporate structure, financial status, and compliance with local regulations, which provide critical information that helps the company’s stakeholders to make informed decisions.

The Importance of Annual Returns

Filing annual returns is a regulatory requirement in Singapore. It is also a critical practice in maintaining the integrity of Singapore’s corporate environment. These filings allow ACRA’s database to remain updated, providing stakeholders with the transparency they need and getting hold of accurate information about a company’s operational status.

For companies, staying compliant with annual return filings can help them avoid late lodgement penalties and reinforce stakeholder confidence in their corporate governance standards.

Filing an Annual Return

Who Needs to File an Annual Return?

All entities registered in Singapore are mandated to file annual returns with ACRA, which include the following:

  • Private and public companies
  • Foreign companies
  • Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs)

This wide-ranging requirement enables the government to provide a transparent and accountable corporate environment across all types of business entities.

What Are the Required Documents for Filing Annual Returns?

There are a number of documents and information required for the filing annual returns; they include, but are not limited to:

  • Company Information: This should include your company’s name, Unique Entity Number (UEN) number, and registered address.
  • Principal activities of Company: You will need to confirm whether there are any changes to your company’s primary and secondary business activities.
  • Details of Company Officers: These include the full names, identification numbers (for Singapore residents), and nationality (for non-Singapore residents) of your company’s directors and secretary.
  • Shareholder Details & Share Capital: This section should detail your company’s shareholders and outline the share capital structure.
  • Financial statements required: Annual returns must be filed together with financial statements in XBRL format (unless exempted), and companies must ensure these documents are prepared accurately and in compliance with the Singapore Financial Reporting Standards (SFRS):
    • Statement of Financial Position (Balance Sheet)
    • Statement of Comprehensive Income (Profit & Loss)
    • Statement of Cash Flows
    • Statement of Changes in Equity

You are required to appoint an auditor to have your Financial Statements audited if your company meets any TWO of the following conditions:

  • Has 50 or more employees
  • Has total assets that exceeds S$10 million
  • Has total annual revenue that exceeds S$10 million
Financial statements audit

Commonly Asked Questions on Annual Return Filing

What is the Deadline of Annual Returns Filing?
Every Singapore-incorporated company must file its annual returns within a specific timeframe. Listed companies must file within 5 months from the date of its Financial Year End (FYE), while non-listed companies must file within 7 months of its FYE.
Do I need to hold an AGM and when should it be held?
Listed companies are required hold their AGM within 4 months after FYE. Non-listed companies are required to hold their AGM within 6 months after FYE.

Private companies may not need to hold an AGM if they meet any of these criteria:
  • if all members have approved a resolution to dispense with the holding of AGMs;
  • if the company sends their financial statements to members within 5 months after the FYE; or
  • if the company is a private dormant relevant company that is exempt from preparing financial statements.
What are the Penalties for late Annual Return Filings?
A late lodgement penalty of up to $600 for each late annual return filing will be imposed on companies.
What are the Penalties of holding AGMs?
A penalty of minimum composition sum of $500 for each late AGM will be imposed on companies.
Step-by-Step Guide for Filing Annual Return on BizFile+

Step-by-Step Guide for Filing Annual Return on BizFile+

The filing of Annual Returns must be done through BizFile+, the official online filing and information retrieval system managed by the ACRA. Basically, BizFile+ is a central hub for all corporate regulatory transactions and the filing of business documents in Singapore.

Access to BizFile+ requires you to possess a Singpass or CorpPass, which acts as a secure digital identity for businesses and individuals to conduct online transactions with government agencies.

To ensure a streamlined and efficient filing process of annual returns, here are the steps you can follow:

  1. Start by visiting BizFile+ and log in using your Singpass or CorpPass credentials.
  2. Once logged in, proceed to your company’s profile by either searching for your company by name or registration number.
  3. Within your company’s BizFile+ dashboard, locate and select the option to file an annual return.
  4. Certain sections of your annual return may already be filled based on previous filings. Review this information carefully and update it if necessary.
  5. Depending on your company’s type, size and financial reporting requirements, you may need to upload additional documents, such as audited financial statements.
  6. Once all information has been reviewed and the necessary documents uploaded, submit your annual return.

What Are some Additional Key Considerations You Should Know about Annual Returns Filing?

There are several key considerations that you should be mindful of, to ensure a smooth process of filing annual returns.

Accurate and up-to-date information
Ensure the completeness of the required documents and that all information submitted in your Annual Filing are accurate and up-to-date. You can extract the latest company search from ACRA to identify gaps (if any) so as to reduce penalty or rectification fee.
Plan ahead
Prepare early to avoid late lodgement fee. Set internal deadlines for gathering information, reviewing documents, and completing the necessary documentation to avoid last-minute rushes.
Stay Informed
Keep abreast of any changes to regulatory requirements or filing procedures that may affect your annual filing obligations. Subscribe to updates from ACRA or consult with your company secretarial services provider if you are using one.
Apply for Extension of Time if necessary
Applying for an extension of time prior to the stipulated deadline can be a useful option, if unforeseen circumstances arise that may delay your ability to submit required documents by the stipulated deadline. ACRA requires 14 days to process the application of extension, so you should apply for the extension more than 14 days before your filing deadline.
ACRA provides resources and support for companies requiring assistance with their annual returns filings. You can also enlist the help of a professional corporate secretarial services provider, such as BoardRoom, to help you with the process of filing annual returns.

How Can BoardRoom Support Your Annual Return Filing Process in Singapore?

For businesses operating in Singapore, filing annual returns on time is essential. In addition to being required by law, it also showcases a company’s commitment to corporate responsibility and transparency. Timely and correct submissions facilitate maintaining a company’s reputation.

With 50 years of proven track record and expertise in corporate services, BoardRoom offers you comprehensive support in navigating the complexities of ACRA annual return filings, XBRL conversion, and AGM meeting management.  With our integrated services, you can be assured of streamlined coordination and synergy that ensures all your compliance requirements are met.

Contact BoardRoom today for a tailored solution that is customised to your requirements.

Contact BoardRoom for more information:


Samantha Tai

Regional Managing Director, Corporate Secretarial

E: [email protected]

T: +65 6536 5355

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What is Payroll Software?

What is Payroll Software

What is Payroll Software?

Payroll software is a digital solution that automates and simplifies various tasks associated with managing employee compensation. It streamlines the entire payroll process, saving time and resources for businesses of all sizes. Companies in Singapore rely on efficient payroll systems to ensure timely and accurate payments to their employees while adhering to strict government regulations.

This guide dives deep into the features of an effective payroll software, how such systems can revolutionise payroll management, touching on the challenges faced by companies and showcasing the transformative power of automation in handling complex tasks like tax compliance, CPF contributions and more.

Key Features of Payroll Software in Singapore

To address the challenges of payroll management commonly encountered by many employers, businesses utilise payroll software that offers a suite of the following essential features to streamline the payroll process.

Automated Payroll Processing
Keeping employee data accurate and up-to-date in the payroll system can be an uphill task, especially for businesses with more than 50 employees, or those with a high employee turnover rate. A payroll system automates multiple payroll and calculation processes, such as employee pay based on the hours worked, pay rates and overtime pay, bonuses, deductions, tax, or payroll-related approval procedures.
Generation of Payslips and Reports
The software generates payslips detailing the breakdown of salaries, allowances, deductions, and net pay for each employee. Not only would the employee be able to check their own payslip, it can also generate comprehensive reports for management’s analysis, reducing the administrative burden on the HR team.
Automated CPF (Central Provident Fund) Calculations and e-Submission
The Central Provident Fund (CPF) is a mandatory social security savings scheme in Singapore. Employers and employees need to remit these contributions in line with current guidelines. A payroll software automatically calculates and manages CPF contributions for both employees and employers, aligning with the latest government rates. It helps to streamline automated CPF calculations and easily integrate with CPF Board e-Submission service
Leave and Attendance Tracking
The payroll software tracks employee leave requests, approvals, and remaining leave balances. Its integration with attendance management systems can enable payroll calculations based on actual working hours, making sure the company is following the employment regulations for remuneration and leave entitlements.
Integration with Third-Party Systems
The payroll software can integrate seamlessly with other HRMS systems. This allows for automatic data transfer between systems and eliminates duplicate entries. In addition, as payroll software maintains comprehensive records of employee payroll data, tax information, and payment history, they can be easily accessed and used for internal analysis, financial reporting, and auditing purposes, reducing the manual effort required for record keeping and reporting.
Security and Data Privacy Considerations
A good payroll software should possess security features to protect sensitive employee data such as salaries, bank account details and CPF contributions. They are also likely to be OSPAR and PDPA compliant with ISAE 3402 certification, and supported by ISO27001-certified data centres to ensure that data security is not compromised.
Key Features of Payroll Software in Singapore

Considerations for Choosing Payroll Software in Singapore

Choosing the right payroll software requires you to consider various factors, which include:

Business Requirements and Scalability

Assess both your immediate and long-term business requirements. Opt for a software that can accommodate your organisation’s size, sector, and payroll complexity. It should be able to scale with your business. Look for versatility in handling different compensation structures, bonuses, and system integrations to support expansion, both locally and globally.

Cost and Budget Considerations

The cost structure of payroll software varies. It can be a subscription-based flat rate or per-employee pricing, or a combination of both, among others. Review your financial constraints to select a model that is optimal for your needs..

User-Friendliness and Customisation Options

Prioritise user-friendly software that is straightforward for HR staff and employees alike, featuring an intuitive design and accessible training materials. Consider customisation capabilities to tailor the software to your processes and reporting requirements.

Integration Capabilities with Existing Systems

Confirm the software’s compatibility with your current HRMS or time-tracking systems to ensure effortless data interchange and reduce manual input and inaccuracies.

Vendor Reputation and Customer Support

Select a provider known for dependable and secure services in Singapore. Assess their customer support’s responsiveness and effectiveness, including response timeframes and the available support methods.

Streamlined Implementation and Comprehensive Training

A payroll software should be easily implemented while aligned with your company’s needs for the methodical installation and customisation of the system. An effective installation or transition process should include data migration to ensure continuity and accurate calculations of salaries, allowances and deductions, alongside comprehensive training for HR teams and users.

How Can BoardRoom Help You with Our Payroll Software?

Choosing the right payroll software is crucial for any business. Manual payroll processing is time-consuming and error-prone, with risks of regulatory non-compliance. Automation through payroll software simplifies tasks and enhances process efficiency, allowing HR staff to dedicate more time to strategic efforts.

Consider a payroll software that fits your business needs, budget, and desired features, such as the BoardRoom Ignite payroll software. It streamlines payroll for businesses of all sizes in Singapore.  Our software automates calculations, deductions, and filings, ensuring accuracy and compliance. With true multi-country payroll processing ensuring full statutory compliance with local legislation in 10 countries and regions across Asia, Ignite’s plans allows your business to scale with confidence.

Ignite payroll software

BoardRoom Ignite Payroll Software Packages

BoardRoom Ignite offers three pricing packages to cater to different business needs:

PlanModules IncludedDescriptionStarting Price per Month*
EssentialPayroll & HRSave time and increase accuracy with these essential business functions. Suitable for small businesses with basic payroll needs.S$320
ProfessionalPayroll, HR & LeaveIncrease payroll productivity and drive value for your employees. Offers additional features like leave accrual management and customizable reports.S$570
EnterprisePayroll, HR, Leave, Claims, Time & AttendanceIncrease efficiency and productivity with a consolidated view of all offices. Designed for large companies with complex cross-border payroll requirements, offers advanced features and integrations.S$1,140

*Please note that a one-off setup fee is required for the above plans.

Book a demo today to experience a seamless payroll experience.

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What is transfer pricing? A guide to understanding opportunities and risks

What is transfer pricing? A guide to understanding opportunities and risks

Transfer pricing is a fundamental financial strategy for multinational companies operating across various jurisdictions. Over the years, countries around the world, including Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and China, have established specific documentation requirements for transfer pricing to prevent tax evasion and ensure compliance.

In simple terms, transfer pricing is used to determine the fair pricing of goods, services or intellectual property exchanged between related entities in the same enterprise. Understanding what transfer pricing is and how it can be used to optimise tax liabilities is an important strategy. However, businesses have to be mindful of navigating complex regulatory frameworks. Tax authorities have sharpened their focus on transfer pricing arrangements, especially in China, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong, where compliance is vital.

Singapore’s tax authority demands meticulous documentation and adherence to the arm’s length principle, which ensures that transacting businesses are on equal footing. This not only ensures regulatory compliance but also fosters fair profit allocation across borders, which also enhances tax efficiency.

In this article, we explore the complexities of transfer pricing and the essential guidelines businesses must grasp to navigate these challenges effectively.

The purpose of transfer pricing: A key business strategy

Effective transfer pricing plays a pivotal role in audit management, global tax efficiency and risk management for multinational enterprises (MNEs). To leverage transfer pricing strategies effectively, MNEs must ensure their records are up to date to navigate complex tax landscapes and mitigate risks effectively.

Compliance and risk mitigation
Effective transfer pricing requires comprehensive documentation to demonstrate compliance with regulatory requirements. It provides a clear record of how transfer prices are determined, how they align with the arm’s length principle, and how they are substantiated by economic analysis. This practice is crucial for audit management as it provides evidence of compliance but also mitigates the risk of penalties and disputes with tax authorities.
Tax efficiency
Strategic transfer pricing reporting allows companies to optimise their global tax positions. By documenting transfer pricing policies, the methodology employed and its rationale, a business in Singapore can justify its tax position and allocate profits in a manner that maximises tax efficiency. This strategic approach to tax planning helps to reduce tax liabilities while ensuring business objectives and regulatory obligations are met.
Staying ahead of changes
Businesses need to stay on top of ever-changing regulations and market dynamics, especially when they operate internationally across multiple jurisdictions. Staying ahead of changes can be daunting, but MNEs can enhance their transfer pricing strategies by actively monitoring and analysing shifts in regulations, industry trends and economic conditions. Taking a proactive approach allows businesses to adjust transfer pricing strategies accordingly, maintain compliance and capitalise on tax optimisation and risk management opportunities.

Because transfer pricing reporting combines compliance with proactive risk management and tax-efficiency strategies, for many global businesses, it’s a cornerstone of their corporate governance strategies.

The key to successful transfer pricing in international business

In today’s interconnected business landscape, MNEs face the challenge of optimising transfer pricing strategies across diverse jurisdictions while ensuring compliance with various regulations and tax rates.

As BoardRoom’s Managing Director Asia, Tax, Eunice Hooi understands the compliance pressures faced by MNEs in the region. To navigate this complex terrain effectively, Eunice advises MNEs to adopt a proactive approach to transfer pricing, where the policies align with their overall business functions and value chains.

MNEs must understand how each business segment contributes to the creation of value across the entire chain. Monitoring and adjusting strategies in response to evolving business dynamics is also crucial. This requires regular reviews of transfer prices to ensure alignment with regulatory changes and economic circumstances.

Navigating regulatory challenges

A significant challenge when introducing transfer pricing strategies lies in navigating diverse regulatory landscapes and tax obligations across countries of operation. Each jurisdiction may impose different compliance regulations and tax rates. This means it is essential for companies to stay informed and adapt their strategies accordingly.

The high-tax countries typically have more comprehensive and strict transfer pricing regulations, preventing MNCs from manipulating their related party transactions to artificially shift profits to low-tax jurisdictions, leading to erosion of taxable income in the higher-tax jurisdictions. These transfer pricing regulations aim to align the pricing of transactions between related parties with what would be expected in an open market between unrelated parties.

In contrast, low-tax countries may have less stringent transfer pricing regulations with the aim to attract foreign investments. These jurisdictions generally offer favourable tax environments to encourage businesses to establish their operations within their borders.

To effectively manage these challenges and ensure compliance, many businesses adopt proactive approaches, such as employing advanced pricing agreements and conducting regular risk assessments. Additionally, developing a robust and consistent transfer pricing policy and methodology is crucial. This helps companies not only manage regulatory challenges successfully, but also maximise profitability by optimising transfer prices according to market conditions and tax implications.

Navigating regulatory challenges

Transfer pricing in Singapore: Case study of company in Asia

Consider the case of a business that operates globally with headquarters in Singapore and operational footprints in Hong Kong, Malaysia and China. The organisation’s diverse structure includes a HR Shared Services Centre in Malaysia, a Treasury Service Centre in Hong Kong, manufacturing facilities in China, and a strategic supply chain hub in Singapore. Given its diverse group of companies, this multinational company faces intricate transfer pricing challenges.

The challenge

The main challenge for this company is accurately assessing the economic value of intercompany transactions across its various jurisdictions. Because each subsidiary contributes distinctly to the value chain, it needs to be able to accurately capture the true value creation arising from the related party transactions.

A strategic approach

The multinational company adopted a value-chain approach to transfer pricing, conducting a detailed analysis of functions, assets and risks for each operational function. This approach allowed for the establishment of transfer prices that truly reflect the economic value of goods and services exchanged between the entities, from manufacturing in China to distribution from Singapore.

The key benefits achieved:

Through the value-chain approach, three distinct benefits were achieved for the company:

  1. Strategic decision-making: the company could make strategic decisions regarding resource allocation and business expansion plans based on a more accurate assessment of where economic value is actually being created within the group of companies.
  2. Risk management: by aligning transfer pricing practices with actual economic activities, the company minimised its compliance risks. This tailored approach provided a robust defence in transfer pricing audits, reducing the likelihood of disputes and penalties.
  3. Tax optimisation: profits were allocated according to the value contributed at each stage of operations, ensuring compliance and optimising tax liabilities. This strategic allocation not only adhered to regulatory requirements but also maximised tax efficiency for the company.

The impact:

This case showcases how a tailored transfer pricing strategy can significantly benefit multinational operations. By adopting a comprehensive transfer pricing strategy rooted in the value-chain approach, the company can enhance its operational efficiency, reduce costs and drive top and bottom-line growth in today’s dynamic global business environment.

Expert advice on transfer pricing in Asia

To navigate the complexities of transfer pricing in Asia, Singapore MNEs can turn to specialised tax advisors. By partnering with an expert in the field, MNEs can be confident that they’ll meet their regulatory obligations in the jurisdictions they operate in while optimising their tax positions.

“We act as strategic tax advisors, guiding our clients through the complexities of transfer pricing,” says Eunice. “Our approach involves understanding their entire business processes, operations and legal structure, including IP ownership if applicable.”

As experts on transfer pricing guidelines, BoardRoom works with clients to conduct a thorough review and assessment of every aspect of business operations, spanning procurement, production and distribution. This allows our team to identify key value drivers, cost centres and profit contributors in the business’s value chain. With a deep understanding of these intricacies, we provide personalised guidance.

Once we have a comprehensive understanding of the business, we collaborate with clients to develop a tailored transfer pricing strategy that aligns with their needs and objectives. This strategy includes both the conceptual framework and the necessary documentation, ensuring a robust and compliant approach to transfer pricing management.

Because the BoardRoom team assesses all areas of the business and what’s important for a business’ strategic direction, we offer a level of detail that many other tax advisors don’t.

“Many advisors focus solely on explaining rules and regulations to their clients based on their reading of the guidelines,” says Eunice. “They can articulate the requirements for a transfer pricing strategy and documentation. However, they often lack the practical commercial experience to help their client implement these strategies.

Setting rules is one thing, but the crucial question is how to implement the transfer pricing strategy effectively.”

Implementation is where the real challenge lies, and this requires a deep understanding of business operations, dynamics and practical solutions that align with regulatory compliance and strategic objectives.

Through a client-centric approach, we offer a suite of transfer pricing services:

Value chain analysis
At the core of our transfer pricing services is a comprehensive analysis of our clients’ value chains. We review and assess each stage of their operations, from procurement to production to distribution, to identify value drivers, cost centres and profit contributors. By understanding the intricacies of their value chain, we can assist the clients in optimising their transfer pricing strategies to enhance efficiency, minimise tax risks and maximise profitability.
Ex-ante price setting
One of the key components of our transfer pricing services is assisting clients in setting appropriate transfer prices before transactions occur. Through market analysis, benchmarking studies, and economic modelling, we assist clients in setting the prices for intercompany transactions at arm’s length and complying with relevant regulations.
By establishing clear and defensible pricing policies upfront, we help clients mitigate the risk of transfer pricing adjustments, penalties and disputes with tax authorities.
Ex-post price testing
In addition to proactive ex-ante price setting, our transfer pricing services encompass ex-post price testing to validate the arm’s length nature of intercompany transactions. We employ statistical techniques, such as comparable profits methods and transactional net margin methods, to assess the accuracy and reliability of transfer prices.
We assist clients in conducting regular transfer pricing reviews, giving the clients the assurance that their transfer pricing policies withstand scrutiny and align with best practices, thus minimising the risk of non-compliance and potential financial consequences.
Transfer pricing partner in Singapore

Your transfer pricing partner in Singapore

At BoardRoom, we play an important role in helping businesses understand the intricacies of transfer pricing, its meaning and its importance in their overall strategic activities in Asia, including Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and China. Through guidance, meticulous analysis and proactive implementation, we help our MNE clients navigate the complexities of transfer pricing regulations and optimise their tax positions.

Enterprises seeking guidance on everything to do with transfer pricing in Asia, come to us because they want a partner who can capitalise on opportunities and ensure compliance. Please contact us today to discover what our team can do for you.

Contact BoardRoom for more information:


Eunice Hooi

Managing Director Asia, Tax

E: [email protected]

T: +65 6536 5355

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Understanding KYC meaning and its role in AML and corporate governance

Understanding KYC meaning and its role in AML and corporate governance

Understanding KYC meaning and its role in AML and corporate governance

In the heart of Southeast Asia, Singapore’s political stability, strategic location close to booming markets, favourable tax incentives, and a skilled workforce make it an attractive destination for multinational corporations and startups alike.

In this dynamic economic landscape, Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) frameworks are critical safeguards, ensuring the seamless operation and integrity of businesses within Singapore’s thriving economy. Beyond regulatory adherence, KYC and AML influence corporate reputation, financial health and operational sustainability. Read on to find out more about the meaning of KYC.

Understanding what KYC is in Singapore’s regulatory landscape

Singapore offers a streamlined process for the formation, registration, merger and acquisition of companies, which has inadvertently led to an increase in money laundering and illegal financing activities.

To address this, the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) of Singapore, alongside the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), established a comprehensive set of guidelines and regulations. These include rigorous KYC regulations, which are enforced by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

Many companies choose to work with a highly skilled company secretary who is knowledgeable about the local regulatory environment when setting up a company to ensure they are compliant.

What is KYC?

In Singapore’s financial sector, KYC practices are paramount, especially in activities such as banking and equity financing, to safeguard the financial interests of businesses, investment firms, and investors.

Regulations-mandated KYC processes include the thorough verification of customer identification before financial services can be offered. These practices help mitigate the risks of money laundering, especially in transactions of high monetary value.

With financial crime becoming more intricate, the MAS regularly updates its KYC regulations, urging companies to stay informed and compliant to avoid penalties and protect their reputation.

Importance of KYC in corporate governance

Non-compliance with KYC poses significant operational and financial risks, including the potential for a company’s operational suspension, license revocation and hefty penalties that can impact a company’s bottom line and investor confidence.

KYC compliance is vital for businesses for a range of reasons, with the most significant including:

  • Risk management: Verifying customer identities and transaction details helps prevent money laundering and terrorism financing.
  • Regulatory compliance: Following KYC regulations is mandatory in Singapore and is crucial for preserving a company’s reputation and integrity.
  • Trust and integrity: Strong KYC practices demonstrate a commitment to ethical standards to stakeholders, thereby helping to safeguard a company’s reputation.

Experienced corporate services providers who are well-versed in administrative corporate secretarial work and corporate governance advisory services can ensure that companies meet all the above compliance requirements.

Such advisory services include:

  • Gap analysis of the company’s corporate governance framework
  • Crafting and reviewing policies on interested person transactions
  • Sustainability practices
  • Code of business conduct and ethics
Challenges in maintaining compliance

Challenges in maintaining compliance due to lack of expertise

The regulatory landscape is dynamic, requiring companies to stay informed and adapt their compliance strategies accordingly. Challenges in maintaining compliance with KYC and AML include increasingly sophisticated illegal activities, and the need for specialised knowledge to monitor sudden changes in a client’s business activities and frequent changes in directorship within a short period of time.

Kevin Cho, Director of Corporate Secretarial for BoardRoom, explains more. “Lack of talent knowledge on AML measures can be a challenge, but this can be overcome through regular updates from the professionals, lawyers, and authorities, or through education and training. We can also utilise digital KYC platforms to trace the beneficiary owners hidden behind multiple layers of entities,” says Kevin.

Digital KYC platforms are increasingly gaining traction as businesses recognise the importance of streamlined identity verification processes. These platforms harness cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, biometrics and machine learning to remotely and securely verify customer identities in real time. In this aspect, KYC digital platforms help address talent shortages by optimising existing resources, automating repetitive tasks, enabling remote work, and facilitating faster onboarding and training processes.

As part of AML regulations, companies must actively monitor transactions of large values. However, few companies are equipped with the proper tracking mechanisms or are across on the latest regulatory changes.

Angelin Loh, Senior Manager, Corporate Secretarial at BoardRoom, adds, “Our team keeps up to date with regulatory changes from authorities such as MAS, Commercial Affairs Department (CAD), and the Singapore Police Force (SPF), reviewing guidelines and notices issued by these authorities to ensure compliance, which we then disseminate to our clients.”

Being aware of penalties and laws

The MAS requires financial institutions to comply with specific controls, including customer and beneficial owner identification, regular account reviews and monitoring and reporting suspicious transactions. This impacts not just companies but also directors. Directors are accountable for ensuring that their companies comply with these regulations, and failure to do so could have legal or regulatory repercussions for them as individuals.

Penalties for non-compliance include the following:

  • Directors and individuals involved in money laundering offences can face:
    • fines up to SGD 500,000; and
    • up to 10 years in prison.
  • Financial institutions failing to adhere to AML policies set by the MAS may incur:
    • fines up to SGD 1 million per offence; and
    • for chronic offences, an additional SGD $100,000 per day.
  • Companies not complying with KYC regulations set by ACRA face significant repercussions, including:
    • cancellation of ACRA registration;
    • denial of access to business services; and
    • financial penalties.

KYC checklist for companies

A comprehensive KYC program not only ensures regulatory compliance, there are other advantages of KYC including safeguarding the company’s reputation and financial integrity.

Here is a simplified KYC checklist outlining the essential components companies should incorporate:

Identity verification
  • Verify the identity of clients or customers.
  • Identify and document ultimate beneficial owners (UBOs).
Customer Due Diligence (CDD)
  • Conduct background checks to assess the source of funds and business intentions.
  • Evaluate risk profiles based on business activities and geographic locations.
Risk assessment and ongoing monitoring
  • Apply a risk-based approach for continuous monitoring.
  • Schedule due diligence reviews based on risk level (annually for high-risk, biennially for others).
Regulatory compliance updates
  • Keep abreast of and comply with the latest AML/KYC regulations.
  • Update compliance programs and staff training as regulations evolve.

A robust KYC framework can help companies navigate the complexities of financial regulations, upholding their reputation and ensuring the stability of their financial transactions.

“This systematic approach ensures companies are not just compliant but actively managing potential risks,” says Kevin.

Relationship between KYC and AML

The relationship between KYC and AML

KYC represents one aspect of AML – a set of measures and procedures aimed at preventing financial crimes implemented by financial institutions and other regulated entities.

These measures include:

  • analysing customer transactions;
  • keeping records; and
  • reporting suspicions of money laundering to the relevant regulatory authorities.

“Because of the AML framework, that’s why we have KYC,” Angelin Loh explains. “Having effective KYC and AML practices helps companies to identify risks on the onset and try to mitigate risks associated with money laundering, terrorist financing and financial crimes.”

The critical role of AML governance in corporate compliance

Incorporating AML practices into corporate governance frameworks demonstrates a company’s commitment to ethical business practices and risk management. It signals to regulators, partners, investors and the public that the company adheres to the highest standards of legal compliance.

Adhering to an AML governance framework strengthens stakeholder trust, enhances corporate reputation and ensures long-term sustainability and success in the global marketplace.

The implications of non-compliance

Non-compliance with AML regulations presents substantial risks, including reputational harm that can diminish trust among customers, investors and broader stakeholders.

The monetary penalties are also severe. Any financial institution that does not adhere to the relevant AML regulations may face fines of up to SGD 1 million per offence and additional fines of SGD 100,000 for each day that the offence continues.

Recent cases of AML breaches in Singapore highlight the serious consequences of AML non-compliance:

Major anti-money laundering operation
In a sweeping action by the Singapore Police Force, 10 foreign nationals were arrested in August 2023 for suspected involvement in money laundering. The operation, one of Singapore’s largest, involved raids on high-value properties and the freezing of substantial financial assets.

Arrests and seizure of assets worth around SGD 3 billion.
Financial institutions penalised
The MAS penalised 17 financial institutions over five years for breaching money laundering and terrorism financing laws, with penalties including fines and the revocation of licenses. This action was part of the fallout from the Wirecard scandal.

Fines totalling SGD 3.8 million and license revocation for one institution.

For businesses, the message is clear: stringent AML procedures are non-negotiable.

Protect business assets

Protect your business assets

Robust KYC and AML processes are central to comprehensive corporate governance, protecting businesses from legal, reputational and financial risks.

The complexity of corporate obligations necessitates the support of a trusted corporate secretarial service. A competent company secretary in Singapore ensures your business remains compliant with changing regulations, safeguarding your company’s integrity.

With more than 50 years of experience, BoardRoom offers comprehensive corporate secretarial and governance advisory services across Singapore and the Asia-Pacific. Our team, equipped with local, regional and global expertise, can help your company navigate compliance complexities, boosting stakeholder confidence and securing long-term success.

Our services include:

  • An independent assessment of your KYC obligations to ensure that your incorporated company adheres to KYC procedures and AML checks.
  • Maintenance of proper statutory registers, such as the registrable controller, to ensure transparency and compliance within your company’s corporate governance framework.
  • Gap analysis of your company’s corporate governance framework.
  • Annual evaluation of board activities and individual directors.

Get in touch with us today to enhance your corporate governance standards.

Contact BoardRoom for more information:

Kevin Cho

Kevin Cho

Director of Corporate Secretarial

E: [email protected]

T: +65 6536 5355

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Sustainability Reporting Revolution in APAC: Everything You Need to Know

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Sustainability Reporting Revolution in APAC: Everything You Need to Know


Did you know that sustainability is rapidly gaining significance for consumers in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region? In fact, Nielsen's latest sustainability study reveals that 69% of global consumers consider sustainability more important than it was two years ago, with one in ten consumers actively prioritising eco-friendly brands.

With stricter regulations and growing consumer demands for accountability and transparency, it's crucial for companies to act now and adapt to the evolving sustainability landscape. This month we dive deep into the fascinating world of sustainability reporting across APAC, uncovering the adoption of International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) regulations and exploring all its implications. 


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We talk about the updates in MY’s CGT Regime, HK’s Patent Box Regime and more

We talk about the updates in MY’s CGT Regime, HK’s Patent Box Regime and more


Updates on Malaysia’s Capital Gains Tax Regime and their e-Invoicing Guidelines, Hong Kong’s new Patent Box Regime and China’s VAT Additional Deduction Policy

We are pleased to present the April edition of our newsletter, where we explore the evolving tax landscapes of Malaysia, Hong Kong, and China. In this issue, we share the latest updates on Malaysia’s Capital Gains Tax Regime and break down their e-Invoicing guidelines before we discuss Hong Kong’s new Patent Box Regime and China’s VAT Additional Deduction Policy. 

Staying informed and engaging proactively with tax advisors are essential for taxpayers in Malaysia, Hong Kong, and China. These steps are crucial for taxpayers in navigating the intricacies of the tax landscape and positioning themselves for sustainable compliance and tax efficiency.



Malaysia’s New Capital Gains Tax (CGT) Regime

Effective from 1 January 2024, Malaysia has introduced a Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on gains from the disposal of capital assets, including gains from foreign capital assets received in Malaysia by residents. 

The Inland Revenue Board (IRB) issued guidelines to clarify the tax treatment for residents disposing of foreign capital assets. Taxpayers should review their investment strategies and seek professional advice to optimise their tax positions considering these changes.


Navigating Malaysia’s Updated E-Invoice Guidelines

The Malaysian Inland Revenue Board (IRB) recently published updated E-invoice Guidelines, a significant step towards enhancing efficiency in tax administration and compliance. 

These guidelines aim to streamline and standardise e-invoicing processes for all businesses in Malaysia. Our tax advisors share more on what these guidelines will mean to your business, in our report. 


Hong Kong

Driving Tax Competitiveness Through Hong Kong’s New Patent Box Regime

Hong Kong gazetted the Inland Revenue (Amendment) (Tax Concessions for Intellectual Property Income) Bill 2024, introducing the Patent Box regime.

This regime applies a 5% concessionary tax rate to eligible IP income sourced and developed in Hong Kong, aiming to incentivise R&D and IP commercialisation. Learn more on why businesses should assess their eligibility and engage with tax advisors so that they can maximise benefits in this innovation-driven environment.



Navigating China's VAT Landscape: Insights into the VAT Additional Deduction Policy

In China, the Value-Added Tax (VAT) Additional Deduction Policy has been pivotal since its introduction. As businesses seek to optimise their tax strategies in 2024, understanding the eligibility criteria, calculation methods, and treatment of special scenarios under this policy is crucial. 

Our report covers everything your business needs to navigate the VAT landscape, to ensure compliance and maximise benefits.




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All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is: [email protected]