Tue | Aug 21, 2018

Companies Office introducing new incorporation, annual return forms

Published:Friday | December 15, 2017 | 11:42 AM

With amendments to the Companies Act having taken effect in June, the Companies Office of Jamaica (COJ) will be rolling out amended company incorporation and annual return forms on Monday, December 18.

A feature of the new forms is that customers will now be required to provide the names of persons who are considered beneficial owners of the company in accordance with the requirements of the Act, the COJ said in a release.

Under the Act, a beneficial owner is anyone who exercises ultimate ownership of a company or the individual on whose behalf the shares are held or on whose behalf a share transaction is conducted.

According to Judith Ramlogan, CEO and Registrar of Companies, “the implementation of the forms on December 18 follows several sensitisation sessions in the Corporate Area, St. James and Mandeville that sought to inform customers of the impending changes and obtain feedback from them as to how the forms could be made more user friendly.”

She added that from those sessions adjustments were made to ensure that the forms are user-friendly and capture information required such as the name, nationality and address of the beneficial owner.

A beneficial owner under the amended Act must be an individual, even in circumstances where an entity is owned by a company.

“It is part of the mandate to establish a stronger corporate governance structure, an accurate register, and to ensure that persons who are doing business in Jamaica are legitimate operators and not engaging in business for illegitimate purposes,” Ramlogan said.

“Therefore, the inclusion of beneficial owner is to lift the veil, so to speak, on who is really exercising true control of a company,” she said.

The COJ said it will continue to accept the old forms up to March 31, 2018 in order to facilitate a smooth transition.

Companies refiling documents due to error will have up a year to submit those changes.

The new form contains less pages and more space for writing as well as explanatory notes to aid applicants in understanding how they should be completed.

With December being a busy period for annual return filings, the COJ will be implementing a status quo annual return form for companies who have had a previous filing using a standard annual return form.

- business@gleanerjm.com