By Anna Ellis • 01 August 2022 • 16:26
Register to crack down on dirty money and corrupt elites in UK goes live. Image UK government.
A first-of-its-kind register, designed to root out corrupt oligarchs and elites attempting to hide ill-gotten gains through UK property, has come into force on Monday, August 1.
The Register of Overseas Entities will require anonymous foreign companies owning or seeking to buy UK land to reveal their true owners, ensuring criminals cannot hide behind secretive chains of shell companies.
The reforms will support government efforts to root out Russian oligarchs and kleptocrats using UK land to hide illicit wealth, the UK government have confirmed.
From today, any foreign company wishing to buy UK property will have to identify its beneficial owner and present verified information to Companies House before any application to the UK’s land registries can be made.
Those overseas entities that already own land in the UK that is in scope will have a 6-month transitional period, starting today, to register their beneficial owners or managing officers.
To ensure criminals are targeted effectively, the register applies retrospectively to property bought since January 1999 in England and Wales, and since December 2014 in Scotland.
Those foreign companies that do not comply with the new obligations could face severe criminal sanctions, including fines of up to £2,500 per day or a prison sentence of up to 5 years.
Business Minister Lord Callanan said: We have been clear that the UK is a place for legitimate business only, and to ensure we are free of corrupt elites with suspicious wealth, we need to know who owns what.”
“By getting this first of its kind register up and running at breakneck speed, we are lifting the curtain and cracking down on those criminals attempting to hide their illicitly obtained wealth.”
“In addition, anti-avoidance measures mean that any overseas entity that has disposed of property since 28 February 2022 – when the legislation to create the register was first announced – will be required to provide a statement to Companies House.”
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