Bahraini MPs have rejected proposed amendments to the Commercial Registration Law. The amendments were going to allow the Industry, Commerce and Tourism Ministry rather than applicants to follow up on approvals related to commercial registrations. They were also going to double penalties on individuals if they committed the same violation of their commercial registration terms twice rather than having it doubled for a second offence, even if unrelated.
The Head of Bahrain’s Execution Court has announced it is going to expedite procedures in the Court. The Courts have been split to hear different cases and enable them to provide more effective e-services. The number of Execution Court judges have also been increased from six to eight. The changes have been introduced together with the Supreme Judicial Council and the Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowments Ministry. Private firms will also be able to act as legal notaries if they are licensed.
Bahrain’s Bourse launched a public consultation on a proposed administrative fines framework. The consultation was launched on 24 November and ended on 5 December 2019. The proposed framework is being introduced in line with the Bourse’s Listing Rules which relate to their powers to impose administrative fines on issuers in the event of non-compliance with the Listing Rules and any other applicable rules, regulations and directives.
To ensure this power is used appropriately, the Bourse is proposing establishing a framework to impose administrative fines for non-compliance with the applicable rules, regulations and directives. The fines will vary depending on the impact and frequency of the violation. They will range between 500 and 10,000 Dinars for each violation and can be up to 100,000 Dinars for cross-listed companies exceeding 30% of an issuer’s share capital for each secondary market they are listed on. All cases will be assessed and reviewed by an Issuer Violation Committee which will be established by the Bourse.
Bahrain’s First High Criminal Court issued verdicts in the case of six suspects found guilty of joining a terrorist group and attempting an explosion. They were also charged with acquiring and possessing explosives without a license, and training on the making of explosives. Five were sentenced to life in prison and the sixth was jailed for five years. They were each fined 500 Dinars and the items were seized. They had received money, advice and materials from abroad and had attempted to blow up a bank ATM but the device failed.
Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have announced they have completed the first Blockchain transaction. It involved the financing of an international trade transaction between the Saudi British Bank and HSBC. The transaction related to shipping standardised aluminum billets from Aluminum Bahrain B.S.C. (Alba) to Saudi Arabia’s Altaiseer Aluminum Corporation (TALCO). TALCO issued a Letter of Credit (LC) on a blockchain-based platform using R3’s Corda system. The system enables information to be traced and tracked as it moves between parties. As it keeps all stakeholders in the loop, it reduces the need for reconciliation and speeds up transactions, while providing visibility on progress for all of the relevant parties.
The CEO of Bahrain’s Real Estate Regulatory Authority has urged real estate valuers to apply for a license from the Authority before the 2 November 2019 deadline. The Authority was launched on 1 March 2018 and initially focused on the licensing of developers, off-plan sales developments, real estate brokers and sales agents. In late 2018, the licensing requirements and regulations were extended to property managers and owner association managers. All providers of real estate valuation services have to hold a Authority license by 2 November 2019. All licensed valuers have to attend the English-language Valuation Standards and Regulations course on 20 and 21 November and 24 and 25 November in Arabic. To register licensed valuers should email email@example.com.
Bahrain’s Real Estate Regulatory Authority has announced it is launching a crackdown on money laundering in the Kingdom’s real estate sector. The crackdown will be launched together with other Government bodies. The aim is to eradicate money laundering in this sector in the Kingdom. The announcement follows the publication of Bahrain Decision No. 3/2019 to mitigate money laundering risks in the real estate sector. Under the Decision, all real estate licensees have to appoint a Compliance Officer who will be responsible for ensuring compliance with Bahrain Law No. 27/2017.
Bahrain’s Deputy King has directed EWA to continue reissuing water and electricity bills for Bahraini citizens at their primary residence account. He has also instructed government departments to ensure the accuracy of services provided. As a result bills will be issued in September, October and November based on last year’s bill if that is lower. The Directive was given as the Deputy King met with the National Audit Office where a report on the accuracy of bills for the previous three months was presented. Recalculations of bills at that time were needed. The Deputy King has also directed EWA to reform its billing system.
Bahrain’s Cabinet has approved a Financial Action Task Force-compliant real estate Decision. The Decision defines the anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing procedure obligations of licensees in the real estate sector. The aim is to ensure they comply with the highest international practices, rules and standards. It has also been issued in line with recommendation from the Ministerial Committee for Legal and Legislative Affairs. The Cabinet also approved the National Risk Assessment Report and the Interim Action Plan for Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism and instructed all Ministries to enhance compliance with Financial Action Task Force standards and recommendations.
Bahrain’s King has directed the Prime Minister to expand quota preferences given to SMEs in Government procurement and tenders and in service facilities in Government entities. The Cabinet has decided the current quota of 10% of companies bidding for provision of Government services should be expanded to include tenders. The same percentage will apply. The Cabinet supported the measure following a review of the memorandum submitted by the Ministerial Legal and Legislative Affairs Committee.