October 10, 2016

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Head of Regulatory Practice Nizam Ismail quoted in The Wall Street Journal

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Head of Regulatory Practice Nizam Ismail was quoted in The Wall Street Journal article titled “Indonesia’s Tax Amnesty Casts New Shadow on Singapore”. The article makes reference to Indonesia’s tax amnesty that highlights the challenge of Singapore to expand its private banking business while still safeguarding its reputation of good governance. In view of the 1Malaysia Development Bhd. financial scandal in Malaysia where misappropriated funds flowed through Singapore’s banking system, The Monetary Authority of Singapore has commented that the case has created “a dent in our reputation as a clean and trusted financial centre”. The Singapore authorities has since responded with increased efforts to proactively target such cases and to further strengthen the country’s anti-money laundering efforts. However, as the Singapore financial system increases its reliance on private wealth, more of such cases could possibly unfold. Nizam contributed that this would be an occupational hazard of major financial centres. The full article can be found in the “Markets” section of The Wall Street Journal dated Monday 3 October 2016.
October 4, 2016

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Managing Partner Tan Chong Huat quoted in The Straits Times

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing’s Managing Partner, Tan Chong Huat, was quoted in The Straits Times article titled “Genuine interest needed to last in community practice". The article was first published in The Straits Times on 4 October 2016.  Genuine interest needed to last in community practice Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd Date: 4 October 2016 Author: Amelia Teng Ms Charlotte Lee knows first-hand what it is like to go through a divorce and not be able to afford a lawyer, after her own experience about nine years ago. The 42-year-old, who had been married for eight years, said: "It was a challenging time for me. I had just left my job at the navy, and was having financial difficulties. "So I understand the challenges that people face in divorce." She eventually engaged a pro bono lawyer, and she is grateful. She hopes to be a family lawyer and is starting the Juris Doctor law course at SIM University next year. She now manages and trains volunteers at the Lions Befrienders Service Association. Her psychology degree from Edith Cowan University, a private institution, also spurred her interest in the social service sector. "It made me interested in the mindset of humans. I also like watching television documentaries about crime and psychology," said Ms Lee. "I don't see lawyers as glamorous. My impression is that law is hard work and stressful," she said. "But I don't feel daunted by this maybe because of the experience I have." Ms Faith Tan, 27, a paralegal starting the Bachelor of Laws course next year, said: "I know family law is not as glamorous - you can't say you close $50-million deals. "But there are other parts of a job that make it meaningful, like being able to help people during the hardest parts of their lives." Ms Tan has a law and management diploma from Temasek Polytechnic. The shortage of community law practitioners means that there is enough work for aspiring lawyers like Ms Lee and Ms Tan, said Mr Tan Chong Huat, managing partner of RHTLaw Taylor Wessing. Mr Koh Tien Hua, co-head of the matrimonial and family law practice at Harry Elias Partnership LLP, added that more marriages are breaking down, and crime still exists in Singapore. Yet the reasons for the lower pay - fresh family lawyers could earn $1,000 to $2,000 less than their corporate counterparts - in these fields are fairly obvious, said legal practitioners like Mr Lim Chong Boon and Mr Rajan Chettiar. Companies have deeper pockets than those needing criminal help, while firms which specialise in community law tend to be the smaller ones, and cannot afford the pay given by the bigger firms. Veteran criminal lawyer Amolat Singh said community lawyers "must be in it for the passion" as "the monetary rewards are comparatively not as attractive or even commensurate with the long hours and the hard work". Mr Chettiar added that young lawyers must manage their expectations: "There is no glamour in law practice, just grit."
October 3, 2016

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Deputy Head of Banking and Finance Ow Kim Kit quoted in The Straits Times

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing’s Deputy Head of Banking and Finance, Ow Kim Kit, was quoted in The Straits Times article titled “Scheme's real value lies in the long-term benefits". The article was first published in The Straits Times on 1 October 2016.  Scheme's real value lies in the long-term benefits Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd Date: 1 October 2016 Author: Francis Chan Francis Chan Indonesia's much touted tax amnesty scheme has not generated anything close to the quadrillion rupiah cash injection Jakarta had hoped for from the repatriation of offshore assets. Of the 937 trillion rupiah (S$102 billion) worth of offshore assets declared by Indonesians, only 14 per cent has been sent home since the scheme's launch. Sceptics will undoubtedly use this fact to argue that the amnesty will not succeed in helping Indonesia raise the capital it needs to balance its state budget for the coming year. An insider in the Joko Widodo administration, however, has told The Straits Times that seeking repatriated funds was never the only objective of the amnesty. What it was also going after was a more valuable commodity - information. This includes assets owned by Indonesians at home and abroad, as well as other income data, which can be used as a foundation for Indonesia to rebuild its notoriously loose tax regime. Only 27 million of Indonesia's 250 million population have registered as taxpayers. Of these, less than a million actually file tax returns and experts say this has been the case for as long as they can recall. But director-general of taxes Ken Dwijugiasteadi told The Straits Times yesterday that of the 341,110 tax- payers who have filed their returns under the amnesty, 15,000 were new taxpayers. Indeed, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati earlier this week said the scheme was more about reforming Indonesia's tax policy and administration. "What is more important is that Indonesian taxpayers realise that in order for us to build the country we really have to mobilise tax in a much more professional and good governance fashion," she said. As of yesterday, Indonesians declared 3,516 trillion rupiah worth in assets, achieving almost 90 per cent of its four quadrillion rupiah target in the first three months of the nine-month-long scheme, which officially kicked off only in mid-July. The taxman also collected 97 trillion rupiah, or 59 per cent of the 165 trillion rupiah in tax revenue Jakarta had hoped to raise. These figures mean Indonesia has managed to outperform - in just the first phase of the scheme - other jurisdictions around the world such as Australia, Chile, Ireland, Italy, South Africa and Spain, which had introduced tax amnesties between 1993 and last year. It has also raised the highest in tax revenue among countries that have done so over the same period. Therefore, the repatriation shortfall, the only blemish in the scheme thus far, may well be a short-term issue, said experts such as RHTLaw Taylor Wessing deputy head of banking and finance Ow Kim Kit. "Some of the customers' funds may be locked up in illiquid property or investments that may require more time and resources to find a buyer at an appropriate price. No one's interest will be served by any large-scale divestment of any asset class that disrupts the market." OCBC Bank economist Wellian Wiranto agrees the real game-changing element of the tax amnesty is over the longer term and how it would be a boon to Indonesia's narrow tax base and less than developed financial sector. "What is worth thinking about too, and much less discussed thus far, is the notion that the tax amnesty would shift how the average Indonesian views the government-to-citizenry relationship."
September 26, 2016

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Managing Partner Tan Chong Huat shared his views on “Bridging the trust gap” in this week’s Views from the Top

RHTLaw Taylor Wessing’s Managing Partner Tan Chong Huat shared his views in this week’s topic in the Business Times’ weekly column, Views from the Top. This article was first published in The Business Times on 26 September 2016. Bridging the trust gap SEP 26, 2016 5:50 AM THIS WEEK'S TOPIC: What can be done - by business leaders and companies - to build trust? Tan Chong Huat Managing Partner RHTLaw Taylor Wessing LLP At the risk of over simplifying the subject, I would recommend that business leaders and companies remember the acronym "GRACE" ie Governance, Risk, Anti-Money Laundering, Compliance & Ethics. These are important virtues when it comes to building trust.  The embracing of each and every one of them will be essential to guide and promote trust, and prevent the destruction of trust that have been established, built over time and maintained between companies and stakeholders. Good governance that delivers performance and profitability which complies with regulations (among others, anti-money laundering as in the recent BSI / 1MDB case), conforms with good ethics, and is equipped with adequate and effective risk management will offer a good trust-enabling framework. Needless to say, the honesty, diligence and accountability of business leaders will be of foremost importance in determining the trust quotient of the companies they helm. Examples include Dr Cheong Choong Kong (Singapore Airlines) and Warren Buffet (Berkshire Hathaway), just to name a notable few. Over time, some of these companies become great institutions which are trusted and loved by their stakeholders, with a distinctive culture of honour and integrity. Hence the importance of "GRACE"