8 Observations on the Proposed Guidelines on Beneficial Ownership of Companies

On 8 November 2019, the Companies Commission of Malaysia (or SSM, being its abbreviation in Malay) issued its Consultation Document for the Guidelines for the Reporting Framework for Beneficial Ownership of Legal Persons. SSM has invited any comments by 4 December 2019.

Credit: corporatecomplianceinsights.com

I had written earlier about the global trends for the need for transparency in beneficial ownership details and also the existing Malaysian position in the Companies Act 2016.

Once these proposed guidelines on beneficial ownership are brought into force, they will bring much certainty in terms of the disclosure obligations on the part of companies, limited liability partnerships and businesses in general. This is a good step in strengthening the need for disclosure on beneficial ownership.

In the first part of this post, I highlight some of the salient changes being proposed for companies specifically. In the second part, I then set out 8 of my observations on the proposed guidelines in relation to companies. Continue reading

Beneficial Ownership of Companies: Out of the Shadows

Recent headlines have carried the news that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission wants to have its own provision on beneficial ownership in the MACC Act 2009 to identify real owners of businesses or properties to further eradicate corruption. This is also against a backdrop of the Panama Papers, and the Paradise Papers.

There is already an existing provision in the Companies Act 2016 (CA 2016) that deals with beneficial ownership. But perhaps, it does not go far enough.

It is important to identify the beneficial owner of a legal entity such as a company, a trust or a partnership. This will ensure tax transparency, and help to fight against tax evasion and financial crimes such as money laundering or terrorism financing. The true controllers of companies will be brought out of the shadows.

I set out some global trends, and I explain the existing Malaysian provision under the Companies Act 2016 (CA 2016) and the possible direction going forward.

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