On 26th July, the Wall Street Journal Risk & Compliance blog reported on a new study by the NGO Global witness and released on 24th July which revealed that –

  • nearly 3.6 million of the more than 4 million companies registered in the UK list at least 1 beneficial owner (known under UK law as a “person of significant control”;
  • thousands of companies filing suspicious entries or not complying with the rules by declaring no beneficial owner, declaring a foreign company as its owner or creating a circular ownership structure;
  • 328 companies on the PSC register that are part of circular control structures (which not legal, if correct);
  • nearly 8,000 UK-registered companies share an owner, officer or registered postcode with a company suspected of having been involved in money laundering;
  • 345 companies have an owner who is a disqualified director;
  • 390 companies have company officers or owners who are politicians (so surely PEP?);
  • more than 10,000 companies declare a foreign company as their owner, with 72% of those linked to a “secrecy jurisdiction” (as the study describes them);
  • after inclusion of Scottish Limited Partnerships (SLP) into the register in 2017 incorporations of new SLPs plummeted by 80%; and
  • identified the 3 people who own the most companies, 2 of which are directors of company formation or company services companies.

The study cited an example where a person with 2 convictions for fraud and tax evasion, partly related to his role in a £10 million smuggling ring “directed” 761 companies registered at one business centre in Leeds.   Many of these companies were dormant but despite earlier conviction for using companies to defraud others, he was able to maintain a large network of dormant companies making no PSC declarations, raising further questions about the lack of checks on PSC filings, the study said.

The study is available at –

Author: raytodd2017

Chartered Legal Executive and former senior manager with Isle of Man Customs and Excise, where I was (amongst other things) Sanctions Officer (for UN/EU sanctions), Export Licensing Officer and Manager of the Legal-Library & Collectorate Support Section

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