UK Companies slow to disclose ultimate ownership details

In spite of efforts to make UK registered companies disclose their ownership through the people with significant control (PSC) register, thousands of companies don’t comply with the rules brought in to counter fraud and money laundering.

According to a 2018 Freedom of Information request to Companies House by Fortytwo Data (now Napier), over 57,000 UK businesses are not yet compliant with new regulations.

Similar requirements are in the process of being introduced in Ireland, called the Beneficial Ownership Register to be maintained by the Companies Registration Office (CRO), as part of the enforcement of the EU Fourth AML Directive.

It is a criminal offence not to follow the PSC/Beneficial Ownership requirements, with potential sanctions including fines for the companies involved and up to two years in prison for the culpable individuals.

PSCs/Beneficial Owners, are natural persons who own directly or indirectly at least 25% of a company’s shares or control at least 25% of its voting rights, or have control over appointments to the board of directors.

The PSC/Beneficial Ownership Registers are designed to reduce the ability of money launderers to hide and funnel their ill-gotten gains, using apparently legitimate corporate structures.

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