New Companies House powers to tackle fraud come into effect

New Companies House powers to tackle fraud come into effect

Companies House has implemented new and enhanced powers aimed at fortifying the integrity of its data and curbing the misuse of the companies register.

Part of the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2023 (ECCT Act), the first of the new measures came into force today.

Key changes introduced include:

  • Extended query powers and supporting evidence requests.
  • Stronger company name checks.
  • Registered office address regulations – Companies are now mandated to maintain a proper address at all times, prohibiting the use of PO Boxes as registered office addresses.
  • A requirement for all companies to supply a registered email address.
  • Lawful company formation confirmation – Subscribers must confirm the lawful intent behind forming a company during incorporation, and companies must ensure the legality of their intended future activities on confirmation statements.
  • Greater powers to tackle and remove factually inaccurate information.
  • The ability to share data with other government departments and law enforcement agencies.
  • In addition to these measures, the ECCT Act introduces new criminal offences and civil penalties, aligning with the broader initiative to cleanse the register by removing unauthorised appointments.

Companies House CEO Louise Smyth said: “These new and enhanced powers are the most significant change for Companies House in our 180-year history.

“We’ve known for some time that criminals have misused UK companies to commit fraud, money laundering and other forms of economic crime.

“As we start to crack down on abuse of the register, we are prioritising cases where people’s names and addresses have been used without their consent. It will now be much quicker and easier to report and remove personal information that has been misused.

“This will make a real difference to individuals.”

Business minister Kevin Hollinrake said: “Companies House now have the tools to take a much harder line on criminals who take advantage of the UK’s open economy and can now ensure the reputation of our businesses is not tarnished by the UK playing host to the world’s scammers.

“The new reforms, which come into effect today, provide further protection to the public from companies fraudulently using their address and will begin to remove the smoke and mirrors around companies hiding behind false information. This will enhance the UK’s reputation as a great and safe place to do business.”

The phased roll out of new powers and requirements is designed to minimise hassle for legitimate businesses. Many of the changes will be integrated into existing reporting cycles, such as the requirement to update a company’s confirmation statement.

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