Malaysia to implement beneficial ownership register

Pedro Gonçalves
Malaysia to implement beneficial ownership register

Malaysia is set to introduce new guidelines requiring all registered companies to submit information on their beneficial owners.

The Companies Commission Malaysia (CCM) regulatory development and services division director, Norhaiza Jemon, said the commission intends to implement the new requirements in early 2020 as local media reported.

Norhaiza had told a forum on Beneficial Ownership in Kuala Lumpur that companies would have six months from the starting date to comply with all the requirements but she did not mention the exact date.

CCM intends to implement the guidelines by early next year"

"CCM intends to implement the guidelines by early next year. So from the effective dates, companies have six months to comply with all the requirements.

"After six months, the registrar will invoke our powers to enquire all the information to be submitted to the registrar," she said. 

Beneficial ownership refers to cases where individuals invest in, control, or reap gains from an asset, such as a bank account, real estate, company, or trust, but who are not listed publicly as the legal owners.

Those who failed to disclose the information would be fined RM50,000. However, the CCM admits that the real challenge would be whether the information given is accurate.

Mohamad Faizal Sadri, the deputy director of Anti-Money Laundering and Forfeiture of Properties Division (AMLFOP) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), said criminal masterminds would often stash hard cash in their homes and even in their car boots to avoid a paper trail.

This made it difficult for enforcers to conclusively prove guilt, he said at a forum on "Unmasking the corrupt through beneficial ownership transparency", organised by Transparency International Malaysia and Malaysia Reform Initiative (Mari).

 Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Latheefa Koya has said the full force of the law would be applied on wrongdoers to ensure that unclear or hidden beneficial ownership was not used to enable corrupt activities and criminal enterprises.


Subscribe to International Investment's free, twice-daily, newsletter