Companies House, the UK registry of companies, is widely known to be filled with fraudulent registration information about directors, addresses and ownership, and it's this willingness to tolerate fraud that has made the UK one of the first ports of call for criminals and looters looking to launder their fortunes.
For years, an activist named Kevin Brewer tried to get Companies House to improve its fraud-monitoring. Finally, in frustration, he registered a company and gave Companies House the names of senior government ministers as the roster of the company's directors.
Then Brewer did a newspaper interview to point out how easy this was, and how much of this was going on under Companies House's nose.
Finally, finally, Companies House initiated a prosecution for fraudulent registration information. They prosecuted Brewer. He is the first person ever convicted for fraudulent company registration. Companies House has issued a triumphant press release, declaring their enforcement arm's relentless prowess. They don't mention whether they're going to prosecute any actual criminals, or whether they're confining all enforcement to whistleblowers who make fools of them.
Kevin Brewer, a businessman, incorporated John Vincent Cable Services Ltd in 2013, making the former Business Secretary Vince Cable MP a director and shareholder without his knowledge. The company was dissolved and taken off the company register after Companies House took action.
Brewer, 65, then formed another company in 2016, Cleverly Clogs Ltd, making Baroness Neville-Rolfe – the Minister with responsibility for Companies House – James Cleverly MP and an imaginary Israeli national, Ibrahim Aman, all directors and shareholders without their knowledge. Companies House dissolved the company and took it off the company register.
Brewer, from Ullenhall in Warwickshire, was ordered to pay over £12,000 after he pleaded guilty to filing false information on the UK's company register at a hearing in Redditch Magistrates' Court last Thursday 15 March.
This story is absolutely insane. At first glance, you think "well done, Companies House, at last they're getting serious about the epidemic of fraud enabled by the misuse of British corporations". [Oliver Bullough/Twitter]
This story is absolutely insane. At first glance, you think "well done, Companies House, at last they're getting serious about the epidemic of fraud enabled by the misuse of British corporations". https://t.co/HSjMDawuyl pic.twitter.com/FiQ1VMkKbv
— Oliver Bullough (@OliverBullough) April 15, 2018