ASEAN Regulatory Brief: Bankruptcy Laws in Singapore, Tax Data in Cambodia, and Money Laundering Legislation in the Philippines

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Singapore: Bankruptcy Reforms to be Implemented from August

Singapore’s Ministry of Law (MinLaw) is expected to implement amendments to bankruptcy rules from August 1, for the benefit of debtors and creditors. As part of the rules, the minimum amount of debt for a person to be declared bankrupt has been increased to SGD 15,000 (US$11,175)  from the current threshold of SGD 10,000 (US$7,445). Under updated rules, first time debtors will be eligible for discharge from bankruptcy after five years once they make full repayment as set by creditors. If by the seventh year a first-time debtor  does not meet the repayment target, they can be discharged from the program. Repeat debtors on the other hand will be eligible for discharge in seven to nine years. Prior to the new rule, there was no timeframe under which debtors could be released from bankruptcy.

At present, most bankruptcies are administered by the government’s Insolvency and Public Trustee’s Office at a low cost. Importantly, MinLaw’s latest changes also state that taxpayer funds should not be used to subsidize the cost of debt recovery. Originally passed in July of 2015, reforms to the bankruptcy law will only apply to applications filed after August 1, or later.

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Cambodia: Tax Authorities to Collect Data in Phnom Penh

The Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) issued Notification No. 039 on July 21 which states that representatives from both the General Department of Taxation (GDT) and the Phnom Penh Municipality will physically visit all companies in Phnom Penh to collect data. This data will include, the organization’s statistics, the firm’s identity and its activities, as well as tax services related to the company . The MEF has urged company owners registered with the GDT to prepare a copy of the tax patent and VAT certificate, receipt of yearly and monthly tax payments as well as water and electricity bills.

Companies not registered with GDT should provide identification of ownership, business permission certifications, leasing agreements, water and electricity bills and any other licenses. Through this data collection, the government aims to see how many companies in Phnom Penh have complied with the new tax registration which requires all companies to register with the GDT. As per law all companies have to be registered with the GDT. Firms in Phnom Penh should ensure that they are registered with the GDT and have all documents ready for checks.

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Philippines: Wider Sectors to Come Under Anti-Money Laundering Act

The Philippines has proposed a new bill which puts casinos, real estate brokers, art and automobile dealers under the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA). The bill comes as the government looks to strengthen its anti-money laundering prevention and regulation policy. Of particular interest is how the bill will affect casinos. Local gambling centers will be required to report suspicious money transactions to the Philippine Anti-Money Laundering Council, while implementing effective customer identification and recordkeeping, prevention of transactions that involve the conversion of money apart for gambling purposes and so on. The bill is also aimed at securing and monitoring transactions that occur within the country’s borders.

Earlier, the World Bank urged the Philippines to have such a law particularly after a bank heist from the Bangladesh government’s New York Federal Reserve. The stolen funds were traced to Manila. Prior to that, cybercriminals, apparently based in China hacked US$81 million from an account and deposited it with two casinos and a junket operator in the Philippines who then transferred the funds to many accounts with the Philippines’ Riza Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC). The government, with passing the bill, hopes to tighten the anti-money laundering laws and regulations and align the country with the rest of the developed world.


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