130,000 UK firms failed to sign up to a compulsory register revealing who controls Britain's wealth

  • The People with Significant Control register was launched in June 2016 as part of a “corporate transparency” bid to show who ultimately owns and controls UK companies.
  • 130,000 UK companies have so far failed to sign the register.
  • Failure to provide information to the register may result in a fine and or a prison sentence of up to two years.

LONDON — As many as 130,000 UK companies have failed to sign a register requiring them to detail their ownership which was introduced to show the people who control vast amounts of Britain’s corporate wealth.

The People with Significant Control register was launched in 2016 as part of a “corporate transparency” drive to show who ultimately owns and controls UK companies, with the exception of listed firms.

Responding to a written parliamentary question on October 12, Conservative MP Margot James, secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy, said: “Companies House’s internal statistics indicate that 130,000 companies on its active register (around 3% of the total) have not yet provided information on their people with significant control.”

Government guidance states that failure to provide information to the register “may result in a fine and or a prison sentence of up to two years,” but James also said no fines have been issued for non-compliance.

“Compliance is Companies House’s primary aim, rather than prosecution. It is taking action to ensure that all companies on the active register report their PSC information,” she said.

The initiative requires firms to record details of their beneficial ownership with the UK’s searchable corporate register Companies House, naming any individual who holds more than 25% shares in the company or holds more than 25% voting rights.

It was introduced as part of a global bid to improve transparency and deter money launderers operating in the UK.

A spokesperson for Companies House is yet to respond to a request for comment made on Friday afternoon.

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