UK opens consultation of discussion paper on enhancing companies ownership transparency

UK opens consultation of discussion paper on enhancing companies ownership transparency

UK government published “Transparency and trust: enhancing the transparency of UK company ownership and increasing trust in UK business - discussion paper” which sets out a range of proposals to enhance the transparency of UK company ownership and increase trust in UK business.

The first part of the paper puts forward measures to ensure we know who really owns and controls UK companies, following our G8 commitments on preventing the misuse of companies.

The main elements of this section of the paper include:

1. Options for the implementation of a central registry of information on companies’ beneficial ownership, maintained by Companies House.
We propose that the registry would hold information on individuals with an interest in more than 25 per cent of the shares or voting rights in a company, or who otherwise control the way the company is run. We consider whether information in the registry should be made public, what information is to be provided and how it is to be updated.

2. A proposal to prohibit the issue of bearer shares. Bearer shares allow the owner of the shares to remain hidden as their name is not disclosed on a company’s register of members. The paper proposes that holders of existing bearer shares should be given a set period of time to convert these shares to ordinary registered shares.

3. Options to enhance transparency around the use of nominee directors, including whether they should be required to disclose their status to Companies House and who they are acting for.

4. A proposal to abolish companies from being appointed as directors (‘corporate directors’). These can result in complex corporate ownership structures which hide the beneficial owner’s true identity.

The consultation closes on 16 September 2013. 

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