House in Order

Posted On 17 Jun 2019
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Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI: Editor of Risk Xtra

Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI: Editor of Risk Xtra

Businesses will be better protected from fraud under new Companies House reforms initiated by the Government that will “do more” to safeguard the personal data of owners and ensure the ongoing accuracy of the register itself.

Business Minister Kelly Tolhurst has unveiled a substantial package of reforms with the clear aim of minimising the burden on law abiding companies. The reforms will contribute towards the UK’s efforts to tackle economic crime by increasing the traceability of company ownership and management, while also offering owners and businesses greater protection from fraud.

The proposed reforms will assist when it comes to increasing the accuracy and usefulness of the information available on the companies register, which last year alone was accessed no fewer than 6.5 billion times and, as of March 2018, included the details of over four million limited companies.

In the last three years there have been almost 10,000 complaints to Companies House from people concerned about their personal details, with worries including the potential for fraud and the illegal use of such information topping the list.

Going forward, better information sharing by Companies House, other Government bodies and financial institutions will more adequately protect businesses and ensure the faster and more sophisticated identification of possible criminal activity, in turn benefiting businesses and consumers alike.

Sometimes, the register can be misused to identify personal information, which may then be used for criminal purposes. Under the new proposals, directors will be given additional rights over their information (such as personal home addresses), while ensuring this information is still available in a transparent manner to public authorities where and when appropriate.

Importantly, the UK has one of the highest ratings for cracking down on anonymous companies, with the Government’s latest proposed measures designed to build on Britain’s world-leading and wide-ranging anti-corruption activity.

Speaking about the Government’s move, Edwin Morgan (interim director general at the Institute of Directors) said: “We welcome the thrust of these proposals. The IoD receives regular complaints from its members concerning the misuse of data published by Companies House. Transparency is a key feature of UK-registered companies, but if that transparency can be exploited by criminals or fraudsters then trust in the legal framework of business is undermined. We look forward to working with Companies House on new powers to monitor and control company information on its register. This will help to provide a more secure and reliable repository of corporate data.”

If brought forward, this new package of proposals from Westminster would represent the most sweeping changes to the Companies House system of setting up and operating companies since the register was first created way back in 1844.

Reliable company information is critical to the financial and banking sector in meeting know-your-customer requirements and helping to protect customers from fraud. That being so, the new proposals are smart, timely and very much to be welcomed.

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.