Bankruptcy/Insolvency Searches for Singapore Individuals & Companies
What is a Bankruptcy or Corporate Insolvency Search?
A bankruptcy search is an enquiry conducted on individuals to ascertain his/her bankruptcy status (i.e. whether the individual is a bankrupt). An individual is declared as a bankrupt by the High Court when he/she is unable to repay debts of more than $15,000 (increased to at least S$60,000 until 19 October 2020 due to COVID-19).
A corporate insolvency search, on the other hand, is an enquiry conducted to determine the liquidation status of companies that have been compulsorily wound up by the court. Here, the term “insolvency” refers to an organisation that is unable to fulfil its financial obligations to its creditors.
Who can conduct a bankruptcy or corporate insolvency search?
A bankruptcy and insolvency search can be conducted by anyone. This includes employers, employees, investors and creditors.
Why Might One Conduct a Bankruptcy or Insolvency Search?
Employers may want to conduct a bankruptcy search on a job applicant to be able to make an informed decision on whether to hire them and in what position.
For example, if the applicant has been declared bankrupt, this may suggest that they lack skills in financial management, decision-making and accountability, making them unsuitable for certain positions.
In addition, employers may also want to conduct a bankruptcy search on their existing employees to determine their suitability for promotion to a managerial or directorship position. This is because, a bankrupt individual requires permission from the High Court to manage any business or act as a director of any corporation.
Similarly, a creditor may conduct a bankruptcy search on an individual before lending him money to ensure that the individual is not a bankrupt. This is because, a bankrupt individual is more likely to be unable to repay the loan as compared to an individual who has not been declared a bankrupt.
Likewise, a prospective investor may conduct an insolvency search on a company to ensure that the company has not been served a winding up order. If the company has been served such an order, it will be in the process of winding up where the debts of its existing creditors with security would be repaid first.
If so, the company may not have any remaining assets to offer as security or benefits to a prospective investor for investing in that company.
For job applicants
Additionally, a job applicant may wish to conduct an insolvency search to ensure that the company they want to apply to is not in the process of being wound up. This is because a company that is being wound up may not have sufficient funds to pay salaries to its employees, and would not be able to provide its employees with career advancement opportunities after it has been wound up and dissolved.
How to Conduct a Bankruptcy or Corporate Insolvency Search
A bankruptcy or corporate insolvency search can be done online through the Ministry of Law Insolvency Office’s E-Services.
If the person conducting the search belongs to an organisation that has been granted partner access to MinLaw’s search facilities, the person may search via the option for “Partners” and would need to log in with SingPass.
The following information is required for the search:
- For bankruptcy searches: the individual’s identification or bankruptcy number
- For corporate insolvency searches: the corporation’s name, Unique Entity Number (UEN) or winding up reference number
After providing the above information, all results matching your search criteria will be retrieved. You can then choose which results you want to pay for and view.
Cost of an Online Bankruptcy or Corporate Insolvency Search
The fee for an online bankruptcy search is $6 per search result you want to view. This is regardless of whether the result is positive or null, or if an individual has been discharged from bankruptcy. The same fee applies for an online corporate insolvency search.
Payment can be made with a Visa or MasterCard credit or debit card, or via eNETS Direct Debit.
Are the Bankruptcy or Corporate Insolvency Records Deleted?
Bankruptcy orders that have been annulled or discharged for 5 years or more will be deleted. Undischarged bankrupts will continue to remain in the public search database.
An individual who is discharged from bankruptcy despite not paying their target contribution in full after 7 years (for first-time bankrupts) or after 9 years (for repeat bankrupts) will have their name on the bankruptcy record permanently.
Corporate insolvency records are not removed and will continue to remain accessible in a public search.
Next Steps after Conducting a Bankruptcy or Corporate Insolvency Search
After finding out whether an individual has been declared bankrupt or a company is in the process of a compulsory winding up, the person conducting the search may decide on his or her next steps.
If an employer finds that a job applicant is a bankrupt, they may consider carefully which role to offer to the applicant, if any.
For existing employees who have been declared bankrupt, the employer may wish to review the individual’s scope of duties, or require the individual to apply to the High Court for permission to take on a managerial or directorial role.
If a prospective creditor finds that the individual is bankrupt, the creditor may decline to offer the loan or offer the loan on more onerous terms to protect his investment. For example, the creditor may charge higher interest rates for extending the loan.
Similarly, if a prospective investor finds that the company has been served a court order to wind up, the investor may not want to invest in the company. A job applicant may also not wish to embark on employment opportunities with the company as the employee may not be paid a salary or receive other employment benefits.
- What a Bankrupt Cannot Do and Must Do in Singapore
- 4 Methods: Getting Yourself Out of Bankruptcy in Singapore
- Guide to the Debt Repayment Scheme in Singapore
- Filing for Bankruptcy in Singapore and What Happens After That
- Bankruptcy/Insolvency Searches for Singapore Individuals & Companies
- Can a Bankrupt's HDB be Seized? And Other HDB FAQs for Bankrupts
- Can a Bankrupt Get a Divorce? How are Assets Divided & More