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Acra to get new chief from April
THERE will be a changing of the guard at Singapore's national regulator of business entities and public accountants.
The Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra) will in April bid farewell to its current chief executive Kenneth Yap, who has served in the position since February 2013.
He will be succeeded by Ong Khiaw Hong, who is now the deputy commissioner of the Corporate and Services Group at the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras).
He will serve as Acra's chief executive-designate from March, and step up to the chief executive's post the following month.
Mr Ong, a National Day Honours recipient of the Public Service Administration Medal (Gold), has had 32 years of experience spanning policy, operations, regulations and corporate governance in the corporate-accounting and tax fields.
The Finance Ministry, in a statement on the change at Acra's helm, also paid tribute to Mr Yap for his contributions.
"Under Mr Yap's strong leadership and management, Acra stepped up its efforts in providing a reliable and responsive regulatory environment, so that Singapore can continue to be a vibrant and trusted place for business.
"With his strategic guidance, Acra implemented a new approach through education, enforcement and eradication to push more errant companies towards compliance."
The ministry noted that Acra had introduced a new regulatory regime for corporate service providers, and implemented more than 200 legislative amendments to the Companies Act and Business Names Registration Act to keep up with changes to the business operating environment.
It noted that Acra had also worked closely with various stakeholders to co-create guidelines relevant to the industry, thus building trust and enabling effective enforcement. This resulted in the launch of the new Audit Quality Indicators (AQI) Disclosure framework, which has helped directors choose quality auditors, as well as the enhanced Financial Reporting and Surveillance Programme (FRSP), which has pushed for high-quality corporate financial reporting while keeping in mind the needs of businesses.
The ministry went on to say that, through Mr Yap's efforts to raise the service quality bar, Acra revamped its business registration portal, BizFile+, to make it easier and more convenient for its users.
"Mr Yap also made tremendous efforts in reducing business compliance cost through the launch of various initiatives. Acra introduced a new small-company concept under the Companies (Amendment) Act 2014 for exemption of small businesses from statutory audit."
The MOF also said that, during Mr Yap's tenure, Acra took an active role in global audit and corporate regulatory discussions and policymaking to keep Singapore's regulatory framework current and aligned with international standards. It also spearheaded the formation of the new Asean Corporate Registers grouping to facilitate business across borders.
Anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing measures were also implemented in the corporate-service-provider and accounting sectors to uphold Singapore's reputation as a trusted international financial and business centre.
Mr Yap, a legal service officer, will return to the Singapore Legal Service to assume his next appointment.