Major reforms aimed at combatting financial crime and better protecting directors from fraud have been unveiled today.
In the biggest shake-up seen since Companies House was set up in 1844, the changes aim to make company ownership and management more transparent and provide greater protection of personal data.
UK business minister Kelly Tolhurst stressed that the changes will also minimise the administrative burden on law-abiding companies,
In the past three years there have been almost 10,000 complaints to Companies House, which is headquartered in Cardiff but also has offices in Edinburgh, from people concerned over issues including fraudulent use of personal details.
The package of proposed reforms includes identity verification of people setting up companies, steps to make it easier and quicker to remove inaccurate information from the register and additional rights for directors to protect personal information such as home addresses while ensuring information is still available to public authorities.
The government said there will also be better information sharing by Companies House to protect businesses and ensure faster identification of possible criminal activity.
Interim director general of the Institute of Directors Edwin Morgan welcomed the plans.
“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,” he said.