SINGAPORE: Company director Lawrence Fong Kok Liong has been fined a record S$57,000 for 38 charges, the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) said in a media release on Thursday (Jul 19).
Fong pleaded guilty to the charges for offences under section 175 and 197 of the Companies Act, including failing to hold the annual general meeting (AGM) and failing to file annual returns (AR) in relation to 19 companies.
Fong had been convicted in 2014 for similar offences and compounded 60 similar offences, said ACRA. A further 78 charges were taken into consideration for the purpose of sentencing, and he was convicted and fined in the State Courts on Tuesday.
This comes after the convictions of five other directors for similar filing offences in April and May this year, said ACRA.
Two of the five directors were given a fine of $1,800 per charge, which the authority said was above the range of $800 to $1,200 per charge usually meted out for such offences.
Fong and the other five directors will also be disqualified as directors of the companies to which they have been appointed, said ACRA.
The authority disqualifies directors who have been convicted of three or more filing related offences under the Companies Act within a period of five years, or had three or more companies struck off the register by ACRA within a period of five years.
Once disqualified, an individual will not be allowed to be a company director or take part in the management of any local or foreign company for five years, effective from the date of the conviction.
These disqualified directors cannot take on any new appointment as a director, or be in any way directly or indirectly concerned or take part in the management of a company.
“ACRA takes a serious view of offenders who persistently fail to comply and hold AGM and file AR on time," said Mr Andy Sim, ACRA's assistant chief executive (legal services and compliance).
"The high fine that the Courts are prepared to impose reinforces our view on the importance of directors complying with their statutory obligations, and we will continue to hold directors to account and press for high fines in egregious cases.”
Echoing his remarks, ACRA in its media release said that the holding of AGM and filing of AR were "important statutory requirements".
"The AGM provides a forum for shareholders to be informed of the financial position of the company and to engage the directors of the company on the matter," said the authority.
"Filing annual returns on time enables timely public disclosure of key information such as the health and status of the company."
DISQUALIFIED DIRECTORS' STATUS TO BE PUBLISHED ON ACRA REGISTER
In addition, ACRA said it would publish all directors who have been disqualified from acting as directors on its public register, with effect from Jul 25.
The disqualified status for a director will be displayed in the business profile and directors profile report of the company.
This will help investors and interested stakeholders conduct due diligence on a company, said ACRA.
Members of the public can purchase the business profile and directors profile report from ACRA’s online business registration and filing portal.