UK Companies House vulnerable to crooks

| 08/05/2019 | 6 Comments
Cayman News Service

Companies House

(CNS): The UK is planning the biggest overhaul of its corporate register at Companies House since the nineteenth century following concerns it is being used by criminals around the world to launder their dodgy cash. According to reports in the British media, the 175-year-old institution will be given more power to check information from people registering businesses and the individuals who control them. Companies House has been criticised because scammers and kleptocrats have taken advantage of a system that does not have the power to verify even basic details of beneficial owners.

Hundreds of companies are listing their owners as offshore shell companies and Global Witness, an anti-corruption group, said it had spotted 2,000 individuals listed as having significant control of registered companies who are disqualified directors, and 76 beneficial owners who share a name and date of birth with people on the US sanctions list.

“UK companies and partnerships have been at the heart of some of the worst money laundering scandals of recent years involving hundreds of billions of pounds — not least at Danske Bank in Estonia and the Troika Laundromat,” Global Witness said. “While the government led the world when it created the first fully open register of the real owners behind companies in 2016, it hasn’t finished the job by ensuring the information is checked and that the rules are enforced.”

The news comes at a time when the UK is requiring its overseas territories, including the Cayman Islands, to implement public beneficial ownership registers. But the inadequacies and vulnerabilities of the Companies House public register has raised concerns among offshore stakeholders, as they believe they should not have to expose their clients until there is a level playing field and an accepted global standard.

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Category: Business, Financial Services, UK, World News

Comments (6)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    No point in the UK tinkering with its regime if it is doing nothing to sort out the evils that lurk in the tax havens it owns.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    The EU MLD4 comes from the EU, not from the UK. The UK directive on BOTs just demanded we comply to their same deficient standard by 2021, and we took it in another direction. The UK directive refers to the UK Companies Law that isn’t required to drill down beyond the Nominees. NGOs have been all over this, but we were too knee jerk (threatening independence) to actually read the law. We could have had (and still could) compliance via two registers: (a) our current full Monty UBO register for law and tax enforcement, and (b) a redacted Public register that simply drills down to Nominee shareholders.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The Overseas Territories have been telling the UK this for years. But the UK hasn’t listened. Because racism.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    I suppose they never heard the saying ” take the log out of your own eye before trying to take the speck out of someone else’s.

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