Companies House has launched a consultation on a number of proposed measures which will bring about major changes as it hasn’t happened since 1844, when the body started registering companies.
The main focus being on what information will have to be filed and the role of Companies House itself in the near future, I took active part in the consultation and responded with my opinion, as I personally welcome most of the proposed measures.
In brief, the main points are:
a) Additional data on shareholders, whether individuals or corporate. As many already know, at the moment the information made public on CH is extremely poor, so poor that if for example there is a corporate shareholder no clue is given as to where that company is registered, let alone its registration number and so on. Sensitive personal data will clearly be kept confidential.
b) Duty to check the information obtained from the company. If an agent or consultant is involved, they will have the duty to check and obtain evidence as to whether the information provided by their client is true and accurate.
c) Identity verification on company officers, PSCs as well as on agents filing the documents; no need to comment here, I believe this can only be a good thing;
d) Inspections and questioning by Companies House, this is by far the major change as CH will stop having a mere repository role and will then be in charge to proactively check, question and inspect the information received as and when it will think necessary.
The above points give an important clue as to what changes will come in the near future, even though the details and the extent of checks and controls are yet to be defined and there is clearly a risk of adding excessive red tape to the filing process.
Yet, as I am sure most will agree, this is an inevitable step forward that not only makes sense with the requirements of the Money Laundering Regulations but that will also strengthen the image of Companies House as a proper institutional body, where the DIY, the “I can do it myself” attitude by part of the public is no longer acceptable and where there has to be accuracy and accountability for what is filed on the registers. This is after all the purpose of all of this: to give correct and reliable information to all stakeholders.
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