How to identify beneficial owner of a business

Discussion in 'Askaboutbusiness' started by ClubMan, Sep 4, 2008.

  1. ClubMan

    ClubMan Frequent Poster

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    Is there any way to identify the beneficial owner of a business? Say it's a limited company then the CRO filings should identify the directors and secretary but the beneficial owner could presumably be somebody else? Is there any statutory requirement for the beneficial owner of a limited company to be registered somewhere?
     
  2. BetterBiz

    BetterBiz Frequent Poster

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    The annual return lists all of the companies shareholders and their shareholdings. You can purchase copies of the companies past annual returns from the CRO online. This should give you the info you require...
     
  3. ubiquitous

    ubiquitous Frequent Poster

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    It is technically possible for the beneficial ownership of a company to be hidden by the use of nominee shareholders who hold the shares for someone else, but in my experience this sort of thing is very rare, and perhaps becoming more rare as time goes on. The increased scrutiny of company affairs as a by-product of the tribunal scandals etc added to the work of the ODCE would mean nowadays that any company trying to obscure its ownership or other affairs would paradoxically attract more attention by doing so.

    Unless your query relates to a particularly "exotic" or nefarious company, the chances are that its CRO record will reflect its true ownership situation.
     
  4. WaterSprite

    WaterSprite Frequent Poster

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    VCs and brokers (e.g. Davys) will hold shares in their own names as nominee for the benefit of various individuals - it's quite common in the tech industry at any rate. There is no way I know of for a non-shareholder (or a shareholder for that matter) to get a list of beneficial owners from behind such holdings.

    Sprite
     
  5. MandaC

    MandaC Frequent Poster

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    I am actually finding that there are more and more people wanting "nominee" shareholders to hold the shares for them.

    If the shares are held by a nominee, the nominee will have completed a declaration of Trust which is not public knoweledge, so there is no way you can find out who the beneficial owner is.
     
  6. bond-007

    bond-007 Frequent Poster

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    So the CRO will not have them down as a nominee shareholder? So as far as the CRO is concerned the nominee shareholders own the company?

    Would the nominees be held liable for misbehaviour by the company officers?
     
  7. MandaC

    MandaC Frequent Poster

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    The CRO will have the nominee shareholders down as "shareholders" on the B1. The CRO are unaware as to whether the shareholders are nominee shareholders or not.

    The Declaration of Trust exists behind the scenes and is not public knowledge. It confirms that the shares are held in Trust for the beneficial owner and is a legal document, if executed correctly and completely. Technically, when the deed is transferred from nominee shareholder to beneficial owner, it should be stamped. Am not sure how this exists in practice , though.
     
  8. ClubMan

    ClubMan Frequent Poster

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    Do nominee accounts and their function in "hiding" the identity of the beneficial owners only apply to public companies (plcs) or also to limited companies?
     
  9. ubiquitous

    ubiquitous Frequent Poster

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    Shareholders, in their capacity as shareholders, are not generally liable for misbehaviour as company officers as they are merely the owners of the company.
     
  10. ubiquitous

    ubiquitous Frequent Poster

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    I have seen them being used in private limited companies.
     
  11. ClubMan

    ClubMan Frequent Poster

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    OK - thanks for all the info.
     
  12. MandaC

    MandaC Frequent Poster

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    All of the nominee shareholdings I am speaking about also refers to limited companies.