Back in April, we blogged about legislation being introduced in January 2016 that will require public disclosure of major interests in UK companies. This has now been postponed until April 2016, and additionally, companies will have until June 2016 to file the information with Companies House. This information will then have to be updated at least once every 12 months.
The information that will need to be submitted in compliance with The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 (the Enterprise Act) will be available to the public and must include details of anyone with an interest of 25% or more in the business.
The Government’s target of clamping down on money laundering and tax evasion may have significant commercial issues for many businesses in the UK. Companies may be reluctant to disclose this seemingly sensitive information. It is not uncommon to seek to keep an investment confidential, especially in an early stage business which may shake up a market or upset existing customers or suppliers.
Come June 2016, anyone who doesn’t take reasonable steps to comply with the new rules or anyone who hasn’t filed the information with Companies House may be convicted of a criminal offence, with the penalties including a possible prison sentence and disqualification from being a director. Persons of Significant Control will also be responsible for disclosing any interests or shares they may have in a directly or indirectly competing company to their current employer or fellow directors.
If you have business interests which could be affected by the impending Enterprise Act, please contact David Gorton (Senior Partner & Head of Corporate Services), who specialises in business structuring, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01254 679131.