Public access to Hong Kong company directors' personal information now limited
Until now, a standard company search conducted by any member of the public has revealed the residential addresses and personal identification numbers (IDNs) of directors and company secretaries of companies on the Hong Kong Companies Registry.
Concern about the misuse of such information has induced the jurisdiction's business regulators to propose an amendment restricting public access to the information strictly necessary only for the register's legal purposes, such as correspondence addresses, as is the practice in Singapore and the UK.
The Legislative Council of Hong Kong has now agreed to this change. Under a new regime to be brought into effect over the next two years, the usual residential addresses and full IDNs of company board members will be made available only to 'specified persons' and not the general public. Such 'specified persons' include any public officer of any public body, member of the company, solicitor or accountant, financial institution or non-financial institution subject to anti-money laundering regulations or any person who needs the confidential information for their 'statutory functions.' Creditors or other parties with 'sufficient interest' can apply for a court order for disclosure of the confidential information.
The new rules apply immediately to the registers of directors held by companies themselves. From October 2022, protected information held on the central register for public inspection will be replaced with directors' correspondence addresses and partial IDNs. From December 2023, any board member can apply to have information already filed with the company register replaced with correspondence addresses and partial IDNs.
The new rules will apply to both Hong Kong-incorporated companies and registered non-Hong Kong companies.
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