Campaigners for corporate transparency have welcomed plans to require identity checks on company directors. In what it said is a 'clamp down on fraud and money laundering', the government announced that it will give Companies House new powers to query and reject information and bar directors from being appointed until their identity has been verified.
Companies House will also require evidence of checks carried out by professional service providers submitting information on behalf of clients.
However it set no timetable for the reforms, which will require legislation.
The changes appear in the government’s full response to the Corporate Transparency and Register Reform consultation published today. Plans include setting up a 'fast, efficient, 24/7 digital verification process'.
Legislation to enact the reforms to the companies register will be brought forward 'when parliamentary time allows'.
Lord Callanan, minister for corporate responsibility, said: 'Mandatory identity verification will mean criminals have no place to hide – allowing us to clamp down on fraud and money laundering and ensure people cannot manipulate the UK market for their own financial gain.'
He said the government will consult on further changes to make Companies House more useful and usable, including reforms to the filing of company accounts.
Steve Goodrich, research manager at pressure group Transparency International UK, said: 'These welcome changes are a significant step forward in tackling Britain’s role as a global hub for dirty money.' He called for the 'long overdue' reforms to be brought forward at the earliest possible opportunity.