More than 200 of Scottish shell firms have sidestepped new UK anti-corruption rules using a simple bureaucratic trick, The Herald can reveal.

Scotland’s notoriously anonymous limited partnerships or SLPs were ordered to reveal their owners in the summer of 2017 after a series of multi-billion-dollar money-laundering scandals, including the “heist of the century” robbery of three Moldovan banks.

Most SLPs - dubbed “Britain’s home-grown secrecy vehicle” by campaign group Transparency International - have failed to do so shrugging off the risk of daily fines of £500 rather than say who their true beneficiaries are.

However, we can today reveal that at least 228 SLPs have declared that they are controlled by a limited partnerships from England and Northern Ireland which are, in turn, anonymously owned.

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Our research comes after earlier this year we found a single example of an SLP called Kellano Inter linked to the son of Ukraine’s ousted president, Viktor Yanukovych, had claimed it was owned by a newly established English LP.

Campaigners believe that the move breaches both the letter and the spirit of transparency rules which came in to force in August.

Every SLP has to name a person of significant control or “PSC” if it has one. Such rules do not apply to English or Northern Irish LPs, which, unlike their Scottish equivalents, do not have legal personality and cannot own assets.

Companies House, Britain’s giant corporate registry, does not regard an anonymous English LP as a suitable PSC.

However, this did not prevent SLPs from filing such anonymous firms as their owners.

Campaigners have long warned that the registry lacks the personnel needed to check submissions by the roughly 4m corporate entities it theoretically oversees.

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A spokeswoman for Transparency International said: “There is a clear money laundering risk posed by the lack of due diligence carried out by Companies House. The UK Government should provide Companies House with sufficient resources to build a capability to identify suspicious activity.

Transparency flagged up The Herald’s original story to Companies House. It is understood the registry is moving to remind SLPs of the rules.

A spokeswoman for the registry said: “We have already commenced enquiries to seek compliance from these Scottish Limited Partnerships.”

Kellano Inter has become something of a test case for transparency rules.

It was supposed to say who its true owner was back in August. Instead it listed its “person of significant control” as a Birmingham partnership called London and Loch Ness, whose formal partners are anonymous shell firms in tax havens. So are Kellano Inter’s.

There is no way of knowing for sure who owns Kellano Inter or London and Loch Ness.

However, credible news media in Ukraine believe they have the answer. They have reported Kellano as a vehicle for Oleksandr Yanukovych who, like his father ex-President Viktor Yanukovych, is currently hiding in Russia from mass corruption charges.

Kellano Inter, which is registered at a former draper’s shop in the South Lanarkshire mining village of Douglas, was linked to Mr Yanukovych junior back in 2014.

The news wire agency Unian said the Kellano Inter – along with two equally anonymous English firms and a business from Cyprus – formally owned Mr Yanukovych’s hotel in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro.

As The Herald revealed earlier this year that the UK Government believes some 28,000 SLPs have failed to even try on paper to comply with PSC regulations.

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The Herald’s own analysis – in a detailed study of tens of thousands of corporate filings – found the figure may be slightly lower. But the Kellano Inter case demonstrates that simply filing a PSC may not bring much transparency.

The Herald has only found around 2000 SLPs which have named a physical person as an PSC. Of these, three-quarters were in the former Soviet Union, especially Ukraine.