A new public register, proposed by government, will provide greater transparency on the ownership of overseas companies.
The register will require overseas companies owning property in the UK to provide details of their ultimate owners. The aim is to limit money laundering opportunities for criminals using shell companies to purchase properties in London, and elsewhere, by ‘making it easier for law enforcement agencies to track criminal funds and take action’.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy recently responded to a written question about the steps that have been taken following the consultation 'Property Ownership and Public Contracting by Overseas Companies: Improving Transparency', which closed on 4 April 2016. They state:
‘The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy published a summary of responses to the consultation “Property ownership and public contracting by overseas companies: improving transparency” on 5 April 2017. On the same day, the department published a call for evidence on an overseas companies and other legal entities beneficial ownership register. The government response to the call for evidence will be published shortly.
'On 24 January this year, the government issued a written ministerial statement confirming the timetable for the implementation of this register. The government will publish a draft bill before the summer recess this year. We intend to introduce the bill to parliament early in the second session.
Following Royal Assent and the making of secondary legislation to implement some of the technical details, the register will be operational in 2021’.
We will continue to monitor the progression of the register.