SINGAPORE: In Parliament last month, Workers’ Party MP Gerald Giam (Aljunied GRC) brought up the issue of background checks for foreigners who want to start businesses in Singapore, an issue he also expressed concern about in 2014.

And in an Aug 8 Facebook post, Mr Giam noted that a Chinese national named Justin Sun, the founder of BitTorrent Foundation in Singapore, had been sued in March of this year by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) after allegations of selling and airdropping unregistered securities, fraud and market manipulation.

Mr Giam underlined that “Sun’s BitTorrent was registered in Singapore under the business activities of ‘IT and Computer Service Activities,’” which greatly differs from the offences his company allegedly committed, namely the fraudulent issuance and sale of crypto assets.

I am concerned that foreign nationals could take advantage of the ease of setting up companies in Singapore, so as to use Singapore as a base to boost their reputations and subsequently conduct fraudulent activities,” he added.

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This is why he asked Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong in July for information on the types of background checks on foreign nationals before being allowed to set up companies in Singapore.

Mr Wong answered that foreign nationals based overseas are required to engage the services of an Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA)-Registered Filing Agent (RFA) for the setting up of Singapore companies.

These firms conduct customer due diligence, which includes verifying identity and background information, confirming the veracity and adequacy of documents and obtaining beneficial ownership information.

They also monitor the company’s business activities and report suspicious transactions to the Police.

“ACRA also makes publicly available much of the information lodged by companies. This helps to ensure that members of the public accessing this information can report any discrepancies to ACRA,” added the DPM.

Mr Wong’s full answer may be read here. /TISG

Gerald Giam: We will continue to stand with you and be your voices in Parliament. Will you join our journey despite these setbacks?