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UK Register of Overseas Entities’ Beneficial Ownership

Volume 638: debated on Thursday 22 March 2018

I have today published a document summarising the responses we received to last year’s call for evidence, which set out proposals for a new world first beneficial ownership register of overseas companies and other legal entities that own UK property or participate in UK Government procurement. This follows the commitment made at the anti-corruption summit in 2016, in order to combat money laundering and achieve greater transparency in the UK property market.

The response to the call for evidence outlines several areas in which policy development has progressed since the publication of the call for evidence. These include proposals for more frequent updates to ensure the timeliness and relevance of the information, and changes in the proposed sanctions to be applied through land registration law to ensure there are no adverse consequences for innocent third parties.

The new register will be the first of its kind in the world, and builds upon the UK’s global leadership in tackling corruption. As stated in the call for evidence, the downside of demonstrating such leadership is that the Government do not have an existing model to work from. The Government will therefore look to strike the right balance between improving transparency and minimising burdens on legitimate commercial activity.

The Department is currently working on the preparation of a draft Bill to deliver these proposals, which the Government intend to publish by summer recess this year. Following consideration of comments received post-publication, the Government intend to introduce the legislation early in the second session of this Parliament.

I have placed copies of the Government response to the call for evidence in the Libraries of both Houses.