UK cracks down on fraudulent company registrations
Companies House has been given new powers to tackle fraudulent information on the company register under legislation which received royal assent yesterday.
The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act introduces what the UK government calls “world-leading powers” to allow authorities to proactively target organised criminals and others seeking to abuse the UK’s open economy.
Companies House will receive enhanced abilities to verify the identities of company directors, remove fraudulent organisations from the company register and share information with criminal investigation agencies.
Law enforcement agencies will benefit from greater powers to seize, freeze and recover cryptoassets, while legal reforms will allow the English courts to dismiss spurious lawsuits — so-called SLAPPs — which seek to stifle freedom of speech. Prosecutors will be better able to hold large corporations accountable for malpractice.
Home secretary Suella Braverman said: “I am committed to ensuring criminals do not profit from their offending and this landmark act will help law enforcement clampdown on the tactics they use.
“It will have a big impact on our ability to fight organised crime, including terrorist funding, fraud and money laundering, and that will ultimately help keep us all safe.”
Business minister Kevin Hollinrake said: “We’re providing Companies House with the tools to take a much harder line on criminals who take advantage of the UK’s open economy, ensuring the reputation of our businesses is not tarnished by the UK playing host to the world’s scammers.
“These reforms will remove the smoke and mirrors around companies hiding behind false identities, provide further protection to the public from companies fraudulently using their addresses, and deliver better data to support business and lending decisions across the economy, enhancing the UK’s reputation as a great and safe place to do business.”
Companies House chief executive Louise Smyth said: “These new powers are without doubt the most significant change for Companies House in our long history.
“We have known for some time that UK companies have been misused by criminals to commit fraud, money laundering, and other forms of economic crime and our thoughts have always been with those affected.
“We will now play a much greater role in preventing further abuse of the register. We will be taking unprecedented steps to crack down on fraudulent activities, help victims quicker and clean up the register by removing information we know to be incorrect.
“This will underpin our efforts to improve the quality and reliability of our data, which will in turn hugely increase the value of the register for businesses across the UK and beyond.”