Companies House: ‘Enabler of illegal activity’
By Sarah Wood | 5th July 2021
Many of us routinely use Companies House to check the legitimacy of a business, yet an investigation by The Sunday Times has shown it may not be a reliable source of information.
Every UK business has to be registered with Companies House, but the investigation has revealed that the organisation carries out only basic checks on the information it is given and has no statutory power to verify the accuracy of the information it receives.
As a result of the limited checks, UK companies registered with Companies House are involved in money laundering on an industrial scale.
One example found by The Sunday Times is that of Grantedge Trading Investment, which offers a range of products, including cryptocurrencies, and claims investors can make returns of up to 3.4 per cent in just six days. It claims to already have two million customers and Companies House documents reveal that there are a number of billionaires behind the business.
While the details of the billionaires on the documents are correct, including accurate dates of birth, the billionaires themselves know nothing of the company.
The Sunday Times said it alerted Companies House to the fake business, but it hasn't been struck off the register two months later.
Fraud experts say the register is full of bogus companies involved in money laundering and even worse crimes and the failure of the police to check the data on the register is a big problem for the investigation of financial crime.
The government has said it will give Companies House greater powers to verify identities and remove false information.
Banks have recommended increasing the fees for registration to help cover the costs of any investigations.
Currently it costs just £12 to register a company - a very attractive price to criminals looking to hide their activities behind a respectable looking business.
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