The Spanish Ministry for Economic Matters and Digital Transformation (MEMDT), led by Nadia Calviño, has announced that it will be more rigorously enforcing punishment on so-called ‘zombie companies’ that do not file their yearly accounts with their Commercial Registries (Registros Mercantiles).
Many of these ‘ghost’ companies, though they may outwardly seem to still be fully functional and profitable, in reality have no liquidity with which to continue trading and repeatedly default on their payments, leading to an accumulation of financial problems.
This state of limbo allows companies to continue wastefully benefitting from EU subsidies and funds with no realistic hope of avoiding bankruptcy. The moratoria established under the State of Alarm due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as negative interest rates are providing an artificial and ultimately temporary boost for such unprofitable firms.
In addition, these unmonitored companies can be a cover for illicit diversion of funds and money laundering. The MEMDT has therefore decided to institute a new regime of sanctions for companies not publishing their accounts.
Penalties for this fault will amount to 0.05% of all registered assets plus 0.05% of sales in the last statement filed with the Hacienda, the Spanish tax authority. If no tax statements are presented, the penalty will be 2% of the companies’ total social capital. Commercial Registries will have six months to resolve proceedings for each sanction they issue to infringing organisations.