The Joint Select Committee on the Draft Registration of Overseas Entities Bill today calls for evidence for its pre-legislative scrutiny inquiry. The deadline for submissions is 18 March 2019.
The draft Bill would establish a public register of the beneficial owners of overseas entities that own or purchase land in the UK, and require overseas entities that wish to own UK land to:
- identify their beneficial owner(s);
- disclose that information to the register (held at Companies House); and
- update the information provided to the register annually.
Failure to comply with these requirements would, in most cases, prevent the entity from (i) acquiring legal title to land, and (ii) selling, leasing, or creating a legal charge (such as a mortgage) over the land.
The principal aim of the draft Bill is to prevent and combat money laundering in the UK property market by increasing transparency about who ultimately owns and controls overseas entities that own land in the UK, making it harder for investors to use complex and opaque legal structures for corrupt purposes.
Among the issues the inquiry will examine are:
- whether the public register will effectively deliver the policy aim of preventing and combatting the use of land in the UK for the purposes of laundering money or investing illicit funds,
- whether the proposed register will have a dampening effect on overseas investment into the UK property market,
- whether there are other types of entity (such as trusts) which should be included in the scope of the draft Bill, and
- whether the conditions for 'registrable beneficial owners' are appropriate.
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