Companies House set to combat criminal acts thanks to new powers



New measures have come into force to help Companies House combat criminal acts and money laundering.

The powers are based on the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2023 (ECCT Act) which launched on 4 March 2024 and rules around confirmation of company activity will become more stringent to tackle the growing abuse of the company registration system.

We have seen many of these problems raised in the press and they often involve businesses or individuals receiving demands to their registered business addresses, citing scenarios of which they have no knowledge.

Taking action

Now, Companies House will require those setting up new companies to confirm the lawful purpose of forming a company during the incorporation process.

As part of the strengthened measures, all companies will now need to provide a Registered Email Address when incorporating or as part of their next confirmation statement.

In addition, the annual confirmation statement will now require confirmation each year, stating that the company’s intended future activities will be lawful.

The new measures are accompanied by new criminal offences and civil penalties to help with their enforcement.

Sharing data

Companies House is also being granted new powers to allow it to share data with other government departments and law enforcement agencies, with the aim of clamping down on illegal activity.

Unfortunately, these new measures – and the additional admin burden - do mean increased fees from Companies House, effective 1 May 2024.

Supporting evidence

As part of the rollout of new powers, Companies House will be able to query information and request supporting evidence when necessary.

This will increase Companies House’s ability to tackle and remove inaccurate information.

The use of PO Boxes is also being scrapped, meaning it will no longer be acceptable for a company to use a PO Box as its registered office address.

And Companies House has warned it will be actively checking Registered Offices on an ongoing basis.

Beatons Director Nick Marshall said: “Fraudulent approaches to businesses can cause a real problem. Criminals are constantly finding ways to try to out-fox companies for demands relating to bogus scenarios. These new rules should help to protect businesses and clamp down on organisations set up solely for the purpose of fraud-related activity.

“Complying with the new rules is vital, and Beatons is available to help any clients who need support.”

If you have any concerns about a communication you receive from Companies House, please contact us for advice.