State extends deadline for firms to name shadowy owners

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Business Registration Service Director-General, Kenneth Gathuma.

The deadline for companies to submit to government names of shareholders or controlling entities has been extended by six months. Business Registration Service (BRS) said it had received more applications by those keen to comply.

The deadline for persons to file beneficial ownership information e-register at the Companies Registry in compliance with the Companies Act, 2015, had been set at the end of this month.

The move to enforce the law aims at enhancing transparency in the shareholding of firms as the State cracks down on illicit cash flows such as money laundering and terrorism financing.

Failure to comply may lead to a fine of up to Sh500,000 for the company and officials.

“We had previously issued a deadline of January 31, 2021. Having taken note of the progress made in filing these registers and in the spirit of encouraging compliance with the Companies Act, BRS has in consultation with stakeholders granted a final grace period of six months ending July 31, 2021,” said BRS Director General Kenneth Gathuma in a statement.

“Failure to comply with this requirement after July 31 makes it an offence to the firm and every officer of the company who is in default. Such an officer will be liable to a fine upon conviction.”

BRS said they had first operationalised the e-register for private limited companies and would do the same for e-registers for the other firms, but warned the public against cons. “We advise the public to be cautious of persons soliciting money to facilitate them in complying with this requirement.”

The Companies Act, 2015 and the Companies (Beneficial Information) Regulations, 2020 require all firms to keep a register of beneficial owners and lodge the same with the Registrar of Companies. A beneficial owner holds at least 10 per cent stake.

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