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TI-UK welcomes progress in Government bid to unmask corrupt individuals hiding UK property ownership

18th July 2019, London – Transparency International UK (TI-UK) has welcomed the Government’s response to scrutiny of draft legislation which would unmask the true owners of UK property bought by anonymous overseas companies. It now needs to be introduced in Parliament to begin the process of becoming law.

The Government today responded to a Joint Committee report on the Draft Registration of Overseas Entities Bill, which seeks to tackle the UK’s money laundering problem by creating a public register of overseas companies which own UK property.

The response confirms the Government’s commitment to this property register, which would unveil the true owners of more than 87,000 UK properties purchased by companies based in secrecy havens. It also commits to addressing a number of recommendations made by the Joint Committee which was tasked with scrutinising the Bill. These proposed changes sought to improve the accuracy and effectiveness of the register.

Using secretive companies to purchase property is a key way in which corrupt individuals seek to hide their ownership of UK homes. TI-UK has previously identified more than £4.4 billion worth of property bought with suspicious wealth, the majority of which was purchased using corporate vehicles based in secrecy jurisdictions like the British Virgin Islands.

Duncan Hames, Director of Policy at Transparency International UK, said: 

“We welcome this statement which brings us one step closer to knowing who really owns property in the UK. It is well known that criminals and the corrupt use anonymous companies to hide their ownership of property here, preventing police, journalists and the public from holding them to account. 

It is now essential that the new Prime Minister prioritises this important legislation, starting with its inclusion in the Queen’s Speech. MPs and peers agreed the legislation should be put introduced to Parliament “as soon as possible”. This is now the next step and should happen without delay. Doing so would send a clear message to corrupt individuals that they will no longer be free to hide their dirty money in the UK property market.” 

***ENDS***

Notes to editors: 

The Government announced plans for a Register of Overseas Entities at the London Anti-Corruption Summit in May 2016.

TI-UK’s Duncan Hames gave evidence to the cross-party Joint Committee on March 18, 2019, where he called for urgent action to stop the UK becoming a safe haven for dirty money.

The Joint Committee issued its report on the draft Bill on May 20, 2019. The Committee urged the Government to put the draft legislation to Parliament “as soon as possible” while also noting the “need for a Register of Overseas Entities has increased”.

Contact:
Harvey Gavin
harvey.gavin@transparency.org.uk
+44 (0)20 3096 7695
++44 (0)79 6456 0340

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Read 144 times Last modified on Thursday, 18 July 2019 13:02

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