The Government is introducing the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill as part of an upgrade of powers to Companies House, described as the organisation’s biggest upgrade in 170 years.
Anyone who registers a company in the UK will need to verify their identity. The Home Office says this is necessary to tackle anyone who uses companies as a “front for crime or foreign kleptocrats”.
Companies House will be given new powers to check and challenge information in a bid to make it into a “more active gatekeeper”, the Home Office states.
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The Government department has released a logo as it announces the new plans for legislation.
The Bill, introduced into Parliament in September 2022, will, if it becomes law, enable Companies House to cross check data with public and private partners, as well as reporting suspicious activity to security agencies and law enforcement.
It will become easier for the National Crime Agency to seize, freeze and recover cryptoassets. In an introduction to the Bill, the Home Office say this is necessary as digital currency is increasingly used by organised criminals to launder profits from fraud, drugs and cybercrime.
Companies House Chief Executive Louise Smyth said: “We welcome the measures outlined in this Bill, which represent the most significant and far-reaching changes to the UK’s company register in over 170 years of history and will enable us to play a much stronger role in making the UK a great place to do business.
“If agreed, these changes will allow us to actively improve and maintain the integrity of the register like never before; inspire greater trust in our data, crack down on economic crime and further drive confidence in the UK economy.”
The 250-page Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency bill, was first promised in May. It had its first reading in the House of Commons in September 2022, with the second reading planned for October.