‘Elon Musk PhD’ Highlights Opacity of U.K. Company Register


On May 3, the U.K.’s official business register showed a new company called Elonspace Ltd with a sole director by the name of “Elon Musk Phd.” The entry lists the same birth month and nationality as those belonging to the world’s second-richest man.

The filing on Britain’s Companies House database gave Musk’s country of residence as England, and a correspondence address of a tower block in West London used for student accommodation.

Companies House is a vital hub of information on U.K. businesses, where firms are required to file accounts and name their directors. Although often used as a tool to conduct due diligence on companies, the registry has been criticized for opaque filings. In 2018 an English businessman became the first person to be successfully prosecuted for submitting deliberately false filings to the database.

“We have a legal duty to place on the register information that is filed by companies and represents what is in their own company registers,” a spokeswoman for Companies House said by email when first asked about the company listing. “At present we have limited powers to verify the accuracy of information that is provided to us. Where there is evidence that false information has been knowingly filed however, we will take action.”

The new entry has “zero affiliation” to Elon Musk, or his launch and satellite business Space Exploration Technologies Corp., according to an emailed comment from a spokesman for SpaceX, who described the U.K. listing as “definitely fake.”

It’s unclear who is behind Elonspace Ltd, which describes itself on Companies House as a business with activities in computer facilities management, information technology, and data processing. It was registered in the U.K. the same week as posts on social media began promoting a cryptocurrency token by that name.

“We can not reveal any classified information about the company, nor the people involved,” a representative for the crypto venture said in response to an emailed request for comment via its website. “This would violate our NDA,” they added, without responding to follow-up questions.

Representatives for that project and for Companies House did not immediately respond to subsequent requests for comment, following SpaceX’s statement that the U.K. listing is nothing to do with their company or Chief Executive Officer.

“I have no idea about this company or ever said that we are connected to it,” said Stavros Modestou, who described himself as co-founder of the token on LinkedIn, when asked about the U.K. entity.

Musk has a separate Companies House entry for a brief directorship of the company Surrey Satellite Technology from 2005 to 2008, which a spokeswoman for that company said was authentic.

— With assistance by Rob Dawson


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