Home Economy Businesses must give full postal and email address as Companies House fights fraud

Businesses must give full postal and email address as Companies House fights fraud

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Businesses are now required to provide a full address instead of a PO Box and must furnish an email address as part of Companies House’s efforts to combat fraud and deception.

These changes, implemented this week, mark the most significant alterations to Britain’s central corporate register since its establishment 180 years ago.

Louise Smyth, the chief executive of Companies House, stated, “Criminals have been exploiting UK companies for fraudulent activities, money laundering, and various economic crimes. As we intensify our efforts to tackle register abuse, we are focusing on instances where individuals’ names and addresses have been unlawfully utilized. Reporting and rectifying misuse of personal information will now be more efficient.”

Fraud specialists and advocacy groups have long advocated for stricter regulations regarding business registration at Companies House. Recent investigations uncovered numerous discrepancies, including instances where directors were listed as deceased before their companies were formed, or where fictitious names like Adolf Tooth Fairy Hitler and Judas Superadio Iskariot were recorded.

Previously, Companies House permitted the use of PO Boxes as registered addresses, enabling criminals to register companies using individuals’ details without their consent.

In addition to the prohibition on PO Boxes and the requirement for email addresses, Companies House now mandates all users to affirm that their company’s formation serves a lawful purpose. While this alone may not deter fraudsters, it provides authorities with additional grounds for prosecution.

Under the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2023, the corporate register has been granted enhanced authority to scrutinize and, if necessary, remove information. It can also conduct more rigorous checks on company names. New criminal offenses and civil penalties have been introduced to complement these measures.

Kevin Hollinrake, the business minister, remarked, “Companies House is now equipped to take a tougher stance against criminals exploiting the UK’s open economy. These reforms enhance public protection against companies using fraudulent addresses and contribute to dispelling the illusions created by companies concealing their true identity.”

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