The UK government has this week published the UK Anti-Corruption Strategy 2017 – 2022.
Amongst other things, the government has renewed its commitment to introduce a public register showing the beneficial owners of overseas legal entities which own or buy property in the UK, or participate in central government contracts. The aim is to improve transparency of property ownership to discourage those who seek to hide or launder their money in the UK.
This subject was visited by the government through a call for evidence in April 2017. The strategy paper notes that the responses to this will be published in due course.
You can read our detailed briefing on the April 2017 proposals here.
The proposals would require overseas entities to register beneficial ownership information at Companies House and obtain a registration number in order to register in the relevant land register (a) new purchases of, or acquisitions of long leasehold interests in, UK property; or (b) any sale, long lease or mortgage of UK property already owned by the overseas entity.
In the strategy document, the government states that it will publish a draft bill for establishing the register during the course of the current parliamentary session.
As noted in our briefing, the introduction of new legislation is not the only step that needs to be taken before the register can be established. As the register will be the first of its kind, it will need to be designed from scratch without the aid of a pre-existing model. The UK government will need to liaise with the devolved administrations. Changes will need to be made to the various UK land registry systems and Companies House, and the UK government will need to raise awareness internationally of the new register.