Policy paper

UK Action Plan to prevent misuse of companies and legal arrangements

Published 18 June 2013

The UK is committed to fully implementing the revised Financial Action Task Force standards in order to improve the transparency of the ownership and control of companies and legal arrangements. This is a matter of good corporate governance as well as a means to tackle a wide range of illicit activity. The UK is committed to taking the following actions to do this.

  1. Conduct, and share the findings of, a national assessment of money laundering and terrorist financing risks by 2014, co-ordinating action by the public and private sector to assess risks, apply resources and mitigate those risks.

  2. Ensure the Companies Act 2006 and UK Money Laundering Regulations oblige companies to know who owns and controls them, by requiring that companies obtain and hold adequate, accurate and current information on their beneficial ownership.

  3. Amend the Companies Act 2006 to require that this information is accurate and readily available to the authorities through a central registry of information on companies’ beneficial ownership, maintained by Companies House. Consult on whether information in the registry should be publicly accessible.

  4. Ensure that trustees of express trusts are obliged to obtain and hold adequate, accurate and current information on beneficial ownership regarding the trust.

  5. Put in place mechanisms to ensure that the relevant competent authorities have access to information on trusts and ensure effective mechanisms to share this information with other jurisdictions, in line with bilateral and multilateral agreements.

  6. Improve the supervision and enforcement of those who facilitate company formation in the UK. This will start with a review of supervision and enforcement of trust and company service providers. The review will include consideration of additional measures to ensure company formation agents conduct effective due diligence including the identification and verification of beneficial owners.

  7. Review of corporate transparency, including bearer shares and nominee directors, by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. This will start with the publication of a pre-consultation paper before September 2013.

  8. Support the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies to publish Action Plans setting out the concrete steps, where needed, to fully implement the Financial Action Task Force Standards.

  9. Improve international cooperation including the timely and effective exchange of basic and beneficial ownership information.

  10. Implementation of the measures will be through, and at the same time as, transposition of the 4th EU Money Laundering Directive and UK Money Laundering Regulations, changes to the Companies Act 2006, as well as through other relevant bilateral and multilateral agreements.