Heston Blumenthal calls for greater urgency in tackling companies house fraud

Heston Blumenthal calls for greater urgency in tackling companies house fraud

Restaurateur and chef Heston Blumenthal OBE is calling for greater urgency in tackling fraud on Companies House after an investigation revealed more than 750 fake firms using restaurant names have been set up in the past six weeks.

His business was one of those targeted and he is writing to Louise Smyth, Chief Executive at Companies House and Registrar for England and Wales, asking for greater transparency on how her organisation is tackling the issue.

Experts are warning that action against fraudsters damaging the reputations and legacy of a wide range of restaurants could take as long as 18 months. Heston Blumenthal is asking for a faster response from Companies House to help the restaurant industry which is already struggling with the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic and the cost of living crisis.

The celebrity chef and entrepreneur whose restaurants include the world-famous three Michelin Star Fat Duck, the  Michelin starred Hind’s Head, the Two Michelin star Dinner by Heston Blumenthal and the Perfectionists’ Café estimates that failing to move swiftly could lead to as many as 9,750 restaurants being victims over an 18 month period.

Heston Blumenthal said: “I am grateful this issue has been highlighted and am confident Companies House will do it all it can to support businesses with tackling what is a long-running problem.

“Our legal team has been scanning the Companies Register for years and has regularly needed to notify Companies House of bogus companies claiming to be to be part of our group.

“The process for removing fake companies has to be speeded up and  made easier. We need greater transparency from Companies House and a clear timeline. In some cases it is being reported it can take up to 18 months to rectify.

“Checks by Companies House on the identity of people registering companies would reduce the risk of frauds and be a major help for restaurants and other businesses facing up to problems with fraudsters.”

Fraudsters targeting restaurants register company names at Companies House usually by applying for registration with slightly different or misspelled names. They then apply for bank accounts and finance in that name and can then target suppliers and potential diners. In some cases restaurant owners have been targeted by other scammers trying to charge them for amending fake details.

Heston Blumenthal’s restaurants are now located across three continents and the group continues to expand its international presence. Heston’s imaginative and scientific approach to the dining experience is revered by many of the great chefs of our time . Recently, a Dinner by Heston Blumenthal was opened in Dubai within the Atlantis hotel and won its first Michelin star, just a few months after it started operating.

Heston Blumenthal added: “The protection of our brands is absolutely paramount to our customers, our partners and our teams who excel every day in our kitchens and restaurants. We will not allow fraudsters to deceive unsuspecting patrons or partners and risk the legacy which we have collectively  built with hard work, dedication, innovation and a grain of eccentricity.”