The draft Registration of Overseas Entities bill would close a loophole that allows individuals to buy and sell UK property anonymously by using companies registered in secrecy jurisdictions like the British Virgin Islands.
If ministers are serious about tackling the flow of corrupt and criminal wealth into the property market, we see no reason why this could not be tabled before Christmas, Duncan Hames, Director of Policy at Transparency International UK, said.
The UK Government committed to introduce transparency over the real owners of overseas companies holding UK property at the 2016 anti-corruption summit.
The Government has drafted a Bill, which has been through pre-legislative scrutiny, and committed to introducing legislation in the December 2019 Queen’s speech.
The call comes just a couple of days after the Pandora Papers, a huge cache of leaked company data, revealed the secret financial operations of 35 leaders and former world leaders and over 300 politicians and billionaires worldwide.
As to UK, documents released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists on Sunday revealed the true owners of over £4 billion worth of UK real estate, which include high-profile foreign politicians, individuals accused of corruption and UK political donors.
Purchasing and owning property via an offshore company is legal, but it is also a common method used by criminals and the corrupt to move and hide illicit wealth. In its latest national risk assessment for money laundering and terrorist finance the Government raised the money laundering risk for the UK property market from ‘medium’ to ‘high’.
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