Capital Markets

Companies rush to declare owners ahead of deadline


Business Registration Service acting Registrar General Kenneth Gathuma. FILE PHOTO | NMG

More than 148,000 private companies have declared their beneficial owners’ information with the company registry, nine weeks before the deadline when they are expected to update shareholder records.

Businesses have been racing to update their records to avoid paying a fine of Sh500,000 for the company and each defaulting official once the deadline lapses at the end of July.

Attorney General Paul Kihara last year ordered public and private companies to provide personal information of shareholders who own more than 10 percent or exercising control in a firm.

“This is a clear demonstration of the commitment from the public to update records for compliance purposes. We are working overtime to review and process the significantly high number of applications with the additional resources being bought in to ensure optimal service levels are maintained,” said Business Registration Service director-general Kenneth Gathuma.

The rules were put in place to curb money laundering, financing of terrorism, unmask illicit wealth, corruption, and reveal the true identity of investors owning large blocks of shares in both private and listed companies, who will also be of interest to the taxman.

They are also aimed at curbing insider trading and shedding light on market activity by curbing the use of nominee accounts that investors have been using to sidestep ownership limits in firms listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange.

Companies and businesses established before 2016 under the previous manual system are required to link to the e-Citizen portal to declare the shareholding and file annual returns.

Mr Gathuma said 32,711 companies have registered on the e-Citizen platform and 34,400 have completed applications to file annual returns.

The disclosure rules were put in place last October, requiring firms to state details about large owners including names, phone numbers, residential address, ID or passport copies, occupation, the date they became and cease to become owners.