Legal & Regulatory

U.S. Court Clarifies Foreign Corrupt Practices Act

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By Shawn Greene

A clarified definition of an “instrumentality” of a foreign government under the FCPA will impact American company relationships with state owned, and partially state-owned enterprises across Asia.

A landmark ruling by the Eleventh Circuit Court has clarified the definition of an “instrumentality” of a foreign government as it relates to the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). The clarification of the term earlier this month in United States v. Esquenazi will inevitably have a significant impact upon the operations and conduct of American companies doing business across Asia.

The FCPA prohibits publicly traded U.S. companies, companies incorporated in the U.S. and their officers, directors, employees, stockholders and agents from making or offering corrupt payments to foreign government officials. Under the FCPA, “foreign official” includes “any officer or employee of a foreign government or any department, agency, or instrumentality thereof.”

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Establishing a Holding Company in Singapore

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By David Lee, Dezan Shira & Associates

The requirements for establishing a local business presence in Singapore are minimal and, according to the World Bank, setting up a business takes only two and a half days on average.

Holding companies in Singapore are typically registered as private limited companies (or “subsidiaries”), and this company structure is by far the preferred business arrangement for small and medium-sized foreign companies operating in the city-state. While navigating business establishment procedures in Singapore is relatively simple, investors should seek the advice of a professional services firm to consider the legal and tax implications that inevitably accompany the establishment of a local business presence.

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Singapore Introduces New Option for Patent Dispute Resolution

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SINGAPORE – The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) launched a cheaper and faster option for the settlement of Intellectual Property (IP) disputes yesterday through a direct collaboration with the World Intellectual Property Organization Arbitration and Mediation Center (WIPO AMC).

The new settlement option will allow disputing parties to submit the disagreement to an expert of their choosing from the Geneva-based WIPO AMC’s network of field-specific IP experts.

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Intellectual Property Rights Strategies in Southeast Asia: Know Before You Go

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By the ASEAN IPR SME Helpdesk

The principle issues surrounding Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) development, protection and enforcement are essential to all aspects of your business. Your IPR strategy should be considered one of the main pillars of your business, not unlike your business strategy or HR strategy. A strong IPR strategy and proactive preparation not only helps to prevent IPR-related issues, but may also result in increased revenue as well as more effective and quick enforcement in the case of an infringement.

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China’s Relationship with the Contentious U.S. FATCA

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By Shawn Greene

For several years now, the United States has been preparing legislation under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), a complex reporting and withholding regime intended to enable the U.S. to better access offshore accounts, investments and income of U.S. citizens who have failed to rigorously report these holdings. Despite several nations’ embrace of the FATCA, China has continued to delay negotiations with the U.S. Treasury over whether or not to allow Chinese financial institutions to report U.S. taxpayer or U.S. firm information to the United States Government.

Under the FATCA, participating foreign financial institutions would be required to report to the IRS with information related to U.S. taxpayers, or foreign firms in which U.S. taxpayers hold substantial ownership.

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China Clarifies Corporate Income Tax Policies for Shanghai FTZ

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Dec. 12 – China’s Ministry of Finance and the State Administration of Taxation jointly issued the “Circular on Corporate Income Tax Policies for Outbound Investment with Non-monetary Assets and Other Asset Restructuring Transactions by Enterprises in the China (Shanghai) Free Trade Zone (Caishui [2013] No. 91, hereinafter referred to as ‘Circular’)” on November 15, which allows enterprises in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone (Shanghai FTZ) to defer corporate income tax payment. Detailed information can be found below.

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Vietnam Set to Increase Minimum Wages from December 31, 2013

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Dec. 4 – The government last week passed a new decree that will increase minimum wages throughout Vietnam as of December 31, 2013, which will be effective for enterprises, co-operatives, household businesses, foreign companies and international organizations operating in the country.

Replacing Decree 103/2012/ND-CP, the new Decree 182 will implement increases of up to VND2.7 million (US$130) in Vietnam’s four different geographic regions categorized on the basis of living standards.

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Japan Signs Financial Supervisory MoU with Taiwan

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Dec. 3 – Taiwan and Japan have inked an MoU designed to increase the financial stability of both countries’ markets and promote investor safeguards in Taiwan and Japan.

The Memorandum of Understanding for the Mutual Co-operation in the Field of Financial Supervision, which was signed last week by Taiwan’s Association of East Asia Relations and Japan’s Interchange Association, will facilitate the “exchange of supervisory information on financial institution’s [operations]” and “will be mutually beneficial for ensuring soundness of the financial systems in Japan and Taiwan,” according to the MoU.

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Work Visa Procedures in the Philippines

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Nov. 7 – The Philippines’ Bureau of Immigration is responsible for processing and issuing visa requests in the country. For foreigners seeking employment in the Philippines, there are three eligible non-immigrant visa types. These are:

  • 9(A): Short-term business visit
  • 9(G): Pre-arranged employment
  • 9(D): Foreign treaty trader or foreign investor

For individuals planning to visit the Philippines for 30 days or less, no visa is required, but trips in excess of 30 days will require a valid visa. Visa applications can be made through any Filipino Consular Office or by submitting a notarized application via mail to the Philippine Consulate General prior to travel or at the Bureau of Immigration upon arrival.

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Setting up a Representative Office in China

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By Eunice Ku

Oct. 29 – When a foreign company decides to try and sell to the Chinese market, there are several options – working through an agency or distributor, or registering a representative office (RO). Whereas an agent or distributor may have limited loyalty or little interest in end-user satisfaction, an RO is an effective way for foreign investors to get a feel for the Chinese market while demonstrating commitment to the market. It is the easiest type of foreign investment structure to set up and, unlike the wholly foreign-owned enterprise, has no registered capital requirements.

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