UK government publishes new economic crime Bill
The Bill amends the Companies Act 2006 to give Companies House greater oversight of the companies register. The register of overseas entities, implemented through the March legislation, will be amended to be consistent with the Companies Act 2006.
The government describes the reforms to Companies House as its ‘biggest upgrade in 170 years’ and notes that it will leave the organisation ‘armed with new powers to check, challenge and decline incorrect or fraudulent information, making it a more active gatekeeper over company creation’. It will also increase the investigation and enforcement powers of Companies House, enabling the organisation to cross-check data and report suspicious activity to security agencies and law enforcement.
Law enforcement agencies will also be given new powers to obtain and utilise information for anti-money laundering (AML) purposes. The Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, commented, ‘Through this Bill we are giving our law enforcement agencies greater powers and intelligence capabilities to stay one step ahead of the criminals intent on keeping their corrupt assets out of reach’.
The Bill also introduces tightened registration and transparency requirements for limited partnerships, including those registered in Scotland, to prevent them being used for the purposes of laundering money.
Businesses will, however, benefit from new exemptions from the principal AML offenses, in order to reduce unnecessary reporting obligations.
The Legal Services Act 2007 will also be amended by the Bill, adding a regulatory objective for both regulators and those they regulate to commit to ‘promoting the prevention and detection of economic crime’.
The Bill will have its second reading in the House of Commons on 13 October 2022.
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