The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has published a response to its consultation ‘Corporate transparency and register reform’ setting out a proposed plan of action to enhance the role of Companies House and increase the transparency of companies and other legal entities.
The consultation received over 1,300 responses and considered:
- The type of information companies should be required to disclose to Companies House.
- Increasing ID checks on directors and persons of significant control.
- How to improve the exchange of information between Companies House and UK Law Enforcement bodies and measures to protect personal information.
- New penalties for certain failures.
To achieve the Government’s vision for a register built on relevant and accurate information that supports the UK’s reputation as a trusted place to do business and a leader in corporate transparency, the BEIS now proposes to introduce:
- Compulsory identity verification for all directors, People with Significant Control (PSC) and individuals who file information on behalf of UK registered companies, including agents who incorporate and make filings on behalf of UK companies. It will not apply to other non-PSC shareholders.
- Increased discretionary powers to the Registrar of Companies to allow:
- Information, including personal data, submitted to Companies House, to be queried and removed under certain circumstances. There is to be further consultation on this.
- Companies House to query, and perhaps reject, company names before they are registered
- Companies House to strike-off limited partnerships following a court order.
- A process whereby individuals can request that personal data is removed from the register.
- Tighter regulations on amendments to accounting reference periods to prevent abuse and especially the shortening of periods.
- A requirement for bodies governed by Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations to report discrepancies between the company register and the information they hold on their customers, together with the cross-referencing of Companies House data against other data sets.
- Reforms as to how and when/why Companies House can issue certificates of good standing.
When it comes to identity verification the proposal is that each relevant individual will have a single digital account with Companies House to which all live companies with which they are involved may be linked. There will be a transitional period to allow this to be put in place for existing directors and PSCs.
The intention is that the Companies House incorporation service will continue as it is seen as being one of the fastest in the world.
The funding for the changes is expected to be included in the current spending review; it is expected that the outcome of this will be published over the next few weeks.
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