Overseas owners of UK property to be exposed

Ryan Bembridge

April 6, 2017

The government plans to expose people who purchase UK property through a foreign company by forcing them to sign a register disclosing who they are.

The register is designed to crack down on money laundering from oligarchs and foreign officials who sink money into London property in particular using anonymous companies.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is seeking views on the register from investors and property experts.

Margot James, business minister, said: “We are committed to protecting the integrity and reputation of the UK property market and this register would be a valuable measure to increase transparency and investor confidence.

“The extension of transparency requirements, which UK owners are already subject to, levels the playing field and means we would know who owns and controls UK property wherever they are from.

“Today we are inviting the views of overseas investors, property and transparency experts on how this register could be delivered.”

Donald Toon, director for economic crime at the National Crime Agency, said: “Criminals and their money launderers will always seek to hide the true ownership of assets, including property, to frustrate investigations and hold onto the profits of their crimes.

“Greater transparency over the true ownership and control of UK property held in the name of overseas companies will make the UK a less attractive place to launder money and will assist investigators track down and recover the proceeds of crime.”

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