Written by : Jon Stone
Italian journalists have gone through the motions to set up a company in the name of a notorious mafia boss headquartered at 10 Downing Street – to illustrate weaknesses in British law they say helps people set up shell companies to launder money across the globe.
Reporters at Il Sole 24 Ore say they were moments away from spending £12 to register the company at the Prime Minister’s address with Companies House under a false name with no real proof of who they were.
Describing the stunt as a “provocation”, the newspaper said “there is nothing easier than creating ghost companies that can hide illegal activities or recycle money” under Britain’s liberalised corporate registration system.
But Companies House, which is responsible for the registration of companies, says that had the reporters completed the registration process – which was not carried out in full to avoid breaking the law – the authority’s automatic systems would have stopped the registration from going through.
“Had the application been submitted our systems would have picked up the false information and the incorporation would have been denied,” a spokesperson said.