Cipro kicks thousands off register

2011-04-16 11:55

Thousands of close corporations (CCs) have been deregistered since June last year after they ­neglected to submit their yearly ­returns with all their details to the Companies and Intellectual ­Property Rights Office (Cipro) on time.

These deregistrations will have profound consequences for ­companies with current contracts and assets which are kept in the ­legal entities.

One of the drastic consequences is that assets kept in the legal ­identity will fall into state hands.

Another drastic consequence is that the name of the company will become “available” as soon as the company has been deregistered for two months.

Cipro’s communications chief Elsabé Conradie said the yearly submission of the information was necessary to ensure the organisation’s databases were up to date.

It was never necessary in the past for companies to submit ­yearly ­returns to Cipro.

The submission of returns was announced back in 2005.

Conradie said: “Years ago, when we started with the registration of companies, there were no ­cellphones and no email addresses. Without this ­information we are not in a ­position to communicate quickly and directly.”

A company which was registered in October has to submit its ­returns in October of the next year, failing which the company will be deregistered a month later.

“We notified companies that we would start with deregistrations in October 2009. We postponed it to January 2010 and then again to July 2010. Then we started with ­deregistrations,” said Conradie.

There is subsequently a bloodbath of ­deregistered CCs on ­Cipro’s ­website.

Notification 25 of February 25 this year is made up of five parts. Four of the five parts consist of 2?669 pages with an average of 80 names per page.

That is 11?294 CCs which were deregistered owing to not having handed in their yearly returns.

Anton Grib, an entrepreneur from Pretoria who wants to launch interactive television in South ­Africa, had his four CCs ­deregistered.

He has been involved in an ­administrative struggle since ­October last year to have them all ­reinstated.

The worst blow for him is the fact that two of his CCs’ names have ­already been “reserved” by ­someone else.

According to Conradie, his only option is to take his case to court.

Grib said it would cost him R10?000 just to start his case in the high court.

Thousands of people are living in blissful ignorance of the fact that their CCs have been deregistered.

“There is a serious inequality ­between the number of ­deregistrations and the number of applications to have corporations reinstated,” Conradie admitted to City Press.

The notifications for reinstatement are three pages on average.

Conradie said a company’s name was “kept” for only 60 days after ­having been deregistered, and after that anyone could reserve the name again to start a company.

Grib is very unhappy and said the state of affairs held unknown risks for him.

He still had running contracts under the companies’ names and did not know what to do now.

“The worst is that crooks can now go and look at which ­companies have been deregistered on Cipro’s website and reserve names for their own purposes.

“They can open brand-new bank accounts under the names of ­established companies and make debt to their heart’s desire. They (Cipro) should have put the names in ‘quarantine’ for at least two tax years,” he said.

Grib is “astounded” by the fact that there was no big announcement about the deregistrations.

If this had happened, thousands of companies would not be in this position now, he said.

Another company which was ­deregistered is the Royal Cape Yacht Club, which is due to hold its 107th annual general meeting in June.

The club seemed surprised when City Press informed it that its name was on the list of ­deregistered companies.

There was apparently a “slip up” in the submission of returns, a spokesperson for the club said ­after he had investigated.

Many companies probably find themselves in the same situation.

Federal Mogul Engine Bearings, Vredenbergh Landgoed and Sasfin Insurance Brokers are also included on the list.

Conradie said people would be shocked to see that big companies with auditing teams and company secretaries had also neglected to ­submit their yearly returns.

She admitted that it had a ­negative effect on the economy when companies were deregistered, but said Cipro had a legal ­obligation to do so if the information was not ­submitted.

According to the new ­Companies Bill ­– which will ­hopefully come into effect next month – returns will have to be submitted only every second year.

The names of companies will ­also be protected under the new law. When a name is registered it will be protected and it will not be so easily “reserved” by someone else.

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