Transparency at bay!   Hong Kong is proposing to restrict the amount of personal information available on company directors.

Under the proposed changes, home addresses and ID card or passport numbers of directors would be obscured in filings starting from the first quarter of 2014. The details could also be removed from historical filings on request.  Currently, anyone can access these details online for a nominal fee. The new law would restrict access to certain groups including law enforcement, regulators and liquidators.

The provisions were contained in a consultation document submitted to the legislature this week. They have worried investors and the media as the changes could make it harder to document cases of corruption or malfeasance.

The changes proposed by the Financial Services and Treasury Bureau and the Companies Registry are aimed at updating existing regulations and increasing privacy protection, according to the consultation document.

The Hong Kong Journalists Association worried that openness was being sacrificed.  The group said in a statement that access to the information has helped uncover illegal activities by government officials, politicians and business people.

Source: South China Morning Post

BIIA Comments:  Shareholders, proprietors, directors (including managing directors) are legal components of a business and thus must be in the public domain. Surely Hong Kong’s masters should recognize that by removing directors from the public domain opens up new dimensions in fraud and conflict of interest and thus jeopardizes the economic growth prospects of Hong Kong.