World-Check Exposes Terrorists, Financial Criminals and Disqualified Directors in UK Companies House Register



    LONDON, Feb. 21 /CNW/ - World-Check, in partnership with data quality
specialist Datanomic, recently embarked on a project to screen the UK's
Companies House register of companies, company directors and secretaries
against World-Checks global database of high risk individuals and
organisations. The underlying aim of the project was to identify the growing
number of high risk individuals registering and operating businesses in the
UK. The project involved screening 6.8 million names of active UK companies
and their Directors and Secretaries using Datanomic's Sanctions & PEP
Screening solution against World-Check's database of some 750,000 high risk
individuals and businesses, including PEPs (Politically Exposed Persons),
money launderers, fraudsters, terrorists, sanctioned entities and twelve other
high risk categories.
    The results were staggering with 3,994 exact matches of high risk
individuals found to be registered in the UK. World-Check found 1,504
disqualified directors running current UK companies despite the existence of
the Register of Disqualified Directors. Many of these Disqualified Directors
are currently operating companies from prison. The screening also revealed 154
individuals involved in financial crime, 13 individuals who are either wanted
by Interpol for terrorism or associated with terrorist groups and activities,
37 narcotics traffickers, nearly 1000 domestic and foreign Politically Exposed
Persons and hundreds of individuals from many other high risk categories.
    A further category of over 27,000 near matches were produced from the
initial scan which are currently undergoing further investigation.

    Who is hiding in the Companies House register?

    Results include among others:

    
    -   A Director of a UK company who is allegedly a representative of Hizb
        ut-Tahrir in the UK.
    -   Another individual, wanted by Interpol for terrorism and forgery, is
        listed in the register as Director of 12 UK companies.
    -   Two individuals, both suspects in foiled UK terror plots, are listed
        by Companies House to be Directors of several UK companies.
    -   A convicted fraudster, who served a 5 year jail sentence for selling
        false insurance, is listed as Director of 2 companies.
    -   Convicted criminals including a money-launderer and a fraudster
        sentenced to 2 years in jail for tax fraud.
    -   An individual accused of violating the US state securities law by
        defrauding investors of approximately US$34 million.
    -   A narcotics trafficker who appears on the USA Treasury OFAC list, and
        is the current Director of 3 companies in the UK.
    -   An individual who was sentenced to 16 months in jail following the
        seizure of narcotics is currently secretary of a UK company.
    -   A Director of a UK based company wanted by Interpol on fraud charges
        in Moscow.
    -   An Eastern European General who is facing United Nations war crimes
        charges is registered as the Director of one active UK registered
        company.
    -   It was also found that the following five foreign countries had the
        most PEPs operating companies in the UK, and hence posed the highest
        PEP risk: the Russian Federation (14), Germany (13) South Africa
        (12), Italy (10), and India (10).
    

    All companies in the UK are registered with Companies House and file
specific details as required by the Companies Act of 1985. With the roll-out
of the Companies Act of 2006 in October 2008, these results pose some serious
questions as to who is tasked with preventing such individuals and groups from
operating in the United Kingdom and in turn gaining access to the financial
system.
    "These results are truly beyond belief in terms of the number of
criminals that are permitted to register and in some cases operate companies
in the UK. The problem seems to lie in the fact that Companies House is not
required in its remit to actively screen applicants, therefore leaving the
door open for terrorists, money launderers, narcotics traffickers and many
others to actively participate in the UK economy without any checks or
balances," said David Leppan, CEO and Founder of World-Check. "These results
serve as a grim reminder as to the dangers of complacency. It is clearly time
for the UK government to broaden the qualifications for registering companies
and directorships as a first defense against a range of criminal and terrorist
activities."
    "Screening your customer base against sanctions lists for known
criminals, terrorists and PEPs should be part of responsible business
practice," said Dr Jonathan Pell, CEO of Datanomic. "Regulated companies are
required to do so by law, and it seems absurd that Companies House, which is
an Executive Agency for the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory
Reform isn't required to do so. If the UK government is serious about
prevention of criminal and terrorist activities, it should take a closer look
at how directorships in UK companies are being used. Datanomic has screened
more than 300 million customer records, which echo the disturbing findings of
this latest survey."
    World-Check has forwarded its findings to the relevant enforcement
authorities for further investigation.

    About World-Check

    World-Check provides its global database of heightened-risk individuals
and businesses to more than 2,500 institutions, including 47 of the world's 50
largest financial institutions, and hundreds of regulatory and enforcement
agencies. The database is updated daily in real-time by World-Check's
international research team, and is derived from hundreds of thousands of
public sources. Coverage includes Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs), money
launderers, fraudsters, terrorists and sanctioned entities - plus individuals
and businesses from over a dozen other high-risk categories. World-Check's
database and tools find direct application in financial compliance, anti-money
laundering (AML), Know-Your-Customer (KYC), PEP screening, enhanced due
diligence (EDD), fraud prevention, government intelligence and other identity
authentication, background screening and risk-prevention practices.
    World-Check offers a downloadable database for the automated screening of
an entire customer base, as well as a simple online service for quick customer
screening.

    About Datanomic

    Datanomic's holistic approach to data management enables its growing list
of European and North American blue chip clients to rapidly achieve a Return
on Investment by exposing and correcting deficiencies in information the
business relies upon. Our clients come from a wide spectrum of industries
including financial services, telecommunications, government, professional
services and engineering.

    http://www.datanomic.com





For further information:

For further information: Vanessa Land, Devonshire Marketing (PR for
Datanomic), Tel: +44(0)1276-675571, Email: vanessa@devonshiremarketing.com;
Marion Willson, World-Check, Email: mw2@world-check.com. For more information
about World-Check go to http://www.world-check.com

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