Companies House will be reformed to clamp down on fraud and money laundering
On 18 September 2020, the government announced measures to enhance the role of Companies House and increase the transparency of companies and other legal entities
The key measures are:
— Identity verification;
— Reforms to Companies House powers;
— Protecting personal information; and
— Company accounts.
Compulsory identity verification will be required for company directors, people with significant control and those filing information. Directors will not be able to be appointed until their identity has been verified by Companies House. According to the government’s response, identity verification will take place through a fast, efficient, 24/7 digital process and is expected to take a matter of minutes with most companies will still being able to be incorporated easily within 24 hours.
Companies House will be given greater powers to query, investigate, amend or and remove information from the register in order to give businesses confidence in who they are doing business with. Individuals will also be given more rights to remove personal information from the register to protect them from fraud and other harms.
The government will also consult on further changes to make Companies House more useful and usable, including reforms to the filing of company accounts, allowing companies to shorten their accounting reference period only once in five years, making all dissolved company records since 2010 freely available and querying or rejecting company names before they are registered.
The changes aim to produce greater accuracy of data on the companies register, without impacting the speed of service, as well as affording users greater protections over their personal data. The aim is also to improve the ability of law enforcement agencies, such as the National Crime Agency, to trace activity for suspected fraud and money laundering.
The government will develop these proposals later this year and will then set out in detail how the reforms are to be implemented. It will bring forward legislation to enact the reforms to the register when Parliamentary time allows and at that time consider transitional arrangements for existing companies.
To read the government’s full response on Corporate Transparency and Register Reform click here.
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