Published:Wednesday | January 10, 2024 | 12:05 AM
The Companies Office of Jamaica, COJ, has put more than two thousand companies on notice of being struck from its rolls if they don’t file missing annual returns and produce information on their beneficial ownership.
Beneficial ownership registration involves disclosure on the ultimate shareholders and controlling parties in a company.
COJ has given 2,172 companies until the end of the first quarter to bring their filings up to date and pay the required fees, or face being deregistered.
It’s one of several punishments available to the agency to keep companies in line. They include mandatory buyback of shares from delinquent controlling shareholders who have failed to provide information, the freezing of shares, being struck off the register of the COJ, and fines ranging from $1 million to $5 million and/or imprisonment for responsible officers.
Deregistration will not lead to the loss of business names as companies have two decades within which to regain their status, the agency said. It is only after 20 years that the names of delinquents will be available to others to utilise.
However, to reclaim the name, the owners must prove that when the name was struck off, the company was still carrying on business.
Fees for the filing of beneficial ownership information is $3,000 while the cost of filing annual returns ranges from $2,000 to $7,000, depending on whether they are nonprofits, profit making, or overseas based companies with or without shareholding.
The companies currently on its radar appear to be dormant, that is, not carrying out business nor in operation, the COJ has said.
From information on the COJ’s website, the assets of such companies can also be seized and taken over by the Crown or government.
In a separate notice, the COJ also warned companies that they need to file their annual returns in order to avoid legal action. Reports are due annually on the anniversary of the company’s incorporation; however, there is a grace period of 28 days.