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Government to urgently consider reform of Companies House

Government to urgently consider reform of Companies House

The government intends to publish an Economic Crime Plan in July 2019, building on some of the recommendations of the Treasury Committee’s Economic Crime report. 
  • Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
  • May 09, 2019
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Following its revision of the Treasury Select Committee’s report titled ‘Economic Crime: Anti-money laundering supervision and sanctions implementation’ , the government said it will urgently consider reform of Companies House to ensure it has the statutory duties and powers to ensure it plays no role in helping those undertaking economic crime.

The report published in March this year, suggested that the scale of economic crime in the UK runs into the tens of billions of pounds, and probably the hundreds of billions.

While the government judged that it is exceptionally difficult to measure economic crime, it said that better understanding of the threat of economic crime will be a key part of its ongoing efforts to combat it. 

Its response also suggested that the UK had an important role to play due to the City of London’s position as a global financial hub. It praised the “introduction of new powers in the Criminal Finances Act 2017, the creation of the National Economic Crime Centre, and the establishment of the Office for Professional Body AML Supervision (OPBAS).” 

Commenting on the response, chair of the Treasury Select Committee Nicky Morgan welcomed the government's committee to allow Companies House to carry out its duties.

She indicated that: "the government is currently assessing whether the power to block a stock market listing on national security grounds is necessary. The Committee will follow the government’s conclusions on this closely". 

Ms Morgan, however, expressed disappointment that the government has chosen not to endorse the Committee’s recommendation for the creation of a register of Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs).

"By not endorsing a central register, the government is making the work of especially smaller firms in preventing economic crime more difficult," Ms Morgan noted. 
 
Government's recommendations 

Some of the government's conclusions included:

  • Companies House needs powers to combat economic crime
  • More precise estimate of the scale of economic crime in the UK needed
  • Government should review UK’s anti-money laundering supervision more frequently
  • UK shouldn’t compromise in the fight against economic crime to secure trade deals post-Brexit
  • HMRC should ensure all estate agents are registered with them for AML purposes
  • Wrong for government to not reform corporate criminal liability framework for economic crime
  • Government should consult widely on any proposed power to block a listing on national security grounds, given the potential post-Brexit sanctions regime
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