Banks placed on alert over ‘rogue’ Companies House filings

Business

Britain’s biggest banks have been placed on alert over hundreds of ‘rogue’ filings which appear to have been lodged at Companies House, the UK’s central corporate register.

Sky News has obtained a note issued by UK Finance, the banking trade association, which warned its members that approximately 800 forms relating to the discharging of financial liabilities were submitted at Companies House late last month.

In the notice to banks – marked as “Urgent” when it was circulated last week – UK Finance said it had alerted both Companies House and the Department for Business and Trade to the issue.

Industry executives pointed to the possibility of an attempted fraud or hacking of the Companies House register, although the circumstances remained unclear on Sunday.

UK Finance said in its memo that a number of members and law firms had “flagged an issue regarding the apparently erroneous satisfaction of security (registered charges) on Companies House relating to a number of live business clients”.

In a further update issued on Friday, it said it had been informed that roughly 800 rogue filings related to 190 companies had been submitted, adding: “Companies House have emphasised that an incorrect entry in the register – saying a charge has been satisfied – does not invalidate or cancel that charge.

“It remains valid and enforceable.

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“However, there will likely be other consequences for lenders that will need to be resolved.”

Companies House, which is owned by the government, is responsible for incorporating and limiting millions of limited companies.

One source described the situation as “deeply alarming” and said it was disappointing that Companies House had also outlined plans to increase its fees in May “when it was susceptible to rogue corporate filings in this way”.

Responding to an enquiry from Sky News, a Companies House spokesperson said: “We are aware of this matter and we are looking into it.”

UK Finance declined to comment further.

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