On 23 June 2017, Hong Kong published the Companies (Amendment) Bill 2017 (the Bill) in the Gazette.
The Bill reflects part of the ongoing efforts of the Hong Kong Government to bring Hong Kong in line with the international standards promulgated by the Financial Action Task Force, of which Hong Kong has been a member since 1991, to enhance Hong Kong's regulatory regime on combating money laundering and terrorist financing. The Bill aims to introduce new laws to improve transparency in the beneficial ownership of Hong Kong incorporated companies.
Key changes proposed to be made pursuant to the Bill include the following:
- Applicable companies will be required to maintain a register of significant controllers.
- Applicable companies have the obligation to carry out investigations, obtain information about its significant controllers and keep the information accurate and updated at all times.
We set out below a summary of these developments, focusing on the proposed amendments to the Companies Ordinance (Cap 622 of the laws of Hong Kong) under the Bill.