Press Statement: Transfer of Mr Kenneth Yap, Chief Executive of ACRA

Date: February 6, 2017

SIAS notes with some sadness that Mr Kenneth Yap is relinquishing his appointment as Chief Executive of ACRA to return to the legal service. In recent years, SIAS has had a close and collaborative relationship with ACRA, especially with Mr Kenneth Yap, who was keen on protecting the interest of minority shareholders and was particularly interested in improving the governance standards in companies. He has been instrumental in improving the quality of financial information of companies which has enormously benefited the investors. His collaborative approach in launching joint initiatives was refreshing. One such collaboration with SIAS and ISCA is the current work to develop a guide on the Enhanced Auditor Reporting standards for investors.

During his watch at ACRA, Mr Kenneth Yap oversaw the implementation of over 200 legislative amendments to the Companies Act (which came into effect in July 2015 and Jan 2016) – some of which are aimed at enhancing the corporate governance landscape.

He also drove the introduction of a new regulatory regime for corporate service providers, a key step in helping to boost Singapore’s efforts in combatting financial crime e.g. tax evasion, money laundering, terrorism financing.

Significant steps were also taken to strengthen the financial reporting eco-system, and in so doing, further improve the quality of financial reporting and auditing in Singapore – e.g. tightening enforcement upstream (via Financial Reporting Surveillance Programme) by ensuring that company directors discharge their duty to provide financial statements that comply with accounting standards, tightening the registration requirements for Public Accountants (PAs) and introducing the Audit Quality Indicators (AQIs) framework.

To foster a positive and sustained corporate compliance culture, ACRA also adopted an innovative enforcement approach. A training programme in lieu of prosecution was initiated for first time offending directors to raise their awareness and understanding of basic statutory duties e.g. holding AGMs and filing annual reports on time.

Mr Kenneth Yap has always been mindful to strike a fine balance between running a robust regulatory regime that protects public interest, while facilitating growth and development of the market. His contributions have boosted Singapore’s reputation as a trusted business hub where the business environment is friendly but also transparent with high standards of corporate governance and strong regulatory frameworks in place. We wish him the very best for his future. We will miss him!

We congratulate Mr Ong Khiaw Hong on his newly appointed position. We look forward to continuing the close collaboration between ACRA and SIAS in the interest of all investors and other market players.

ACRA plays an important role in regulating the corporate sector and promoting Singapore as a trusted business and financial hub. The monitoring of companies’ compliance with disclosure requirements and the regulation of public accountants performing statutory audit provides retail investors the confidence to invest in Singapore companies. We are confident that Mr Ong will continue the good work of Mr Yap and maintain the strong and cordial partnership with all stakeholders.

David Gerald
Founder, President & CEO
Securities Investors Association (Singapore)