New Delhi, September 6, 2017

Directors of shell companies which have not filed tax returns for three or more years will be barred from taking similar positions elsewhere or getting reappointed, the government said, as it intensified the crackdown on firms that exist only on paper.

The government has struck more than 2 lakh shell companies off the Register of Companies and put restrictions on their bank accounts as part of its clampdown on black money. Directors of the companies that were struck off the RoC could face up to 10 years in jail if they were found siphoning off funds, the government said on Wednesday. The government said it is compiling the profiles of the directors at such companies in collaboration with enforcement agencies and expects the move to cover 2-3 lakh people.

Professionals such as chartered accountants, company secretaries and cost accountants associated with shell companies and involved in illegal activities have also been identified, according to a statement.

The decisions were made at a review meeting chaired by the minister of state for corporate affairs, PP Chaudhary, to strengthen the rules and procedures of corporate governance, it said. The move “would not only help in checking the menace of black money but also would promote an ecosystem of ‘ease of doing business’ and enhancing investors’ confidence”, Chaudhary said.

Enforcement agencies are compiling profiles of directors, including their background, antecedents and role in the operations and functioning of these companies.

 “All efforts are also being made to identify the actual beneficiaries and persons behind such shell companies,” the government statement said. The government is also monitoring action being taken by professional institutes such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and Institute of Company Secretaries of India.

 “Interest of stakeholders would be fully protected” during the process, which will help improve the image of the country in the global business arena, the minister said.

[The Economic Times]