Hong Kong’s business standing weakens
HONG KONG, June 15 (Reuters Breakingviews) - Hong Kong government plans for curbing access to its corporate registry are moving forward. The measures will bar all but select groups read more such as due diligence experts from access to details on directors and private company particulars, by removing address details and partially obscuring identity numbers. In an experiment, independent investor David Webb searched the registry and found 16 directors with identical names that shared visible ID numbers with at least one namesake.
If officials wanted simply to protect individuals’ privacy, they could drop the residential address requirement for a business, or correspondence, address as London’s Companies House does. As they stand, the changes will render the database virtually useless to anyone without full access, a group which will include small business owners and journalists. Hong Kong’s international standing is already suffering as Beijing tightens its grip. With governments around the world pushing transparency on low-tax jurisdictions, this looks shady. (By Jennifer Hughes)
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