Law protecting small investors may generate funds

The proposed change in the law governing investments may seem obscure, but the impact could be significant.

This is the bill that gives minority investors more power in the company in which they put their money. Until now those with a small stake in a company could be prevented from learning about conflicts of interest or the income and outgo.

The bill, No.  19.530, received strong support in the legislature with 48 votes. The bill would allow shareholders totaling 10 percent of the outstanding stock to demand a financial accounting. They also would have access to the company books. Previously, minority investors needed to assemble 20 percent of the outstanding stock.

If minority investors suspect a conflict of interest by members of the company board or officers, they could seek an order from a judge to obtain a financial audit. Self-dealing by company officers is one way minority shareholders can be stripped of their rightful return.

The bill was put forth by the Ministerio de Economía, Industria y Comercio. With more protection, officials hope that  Costa Rican companies will be able to raise more money from investors who otherwise would be leery that their rights would not be protected.

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