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Register of Beneficial Owners of Overseas Entities Update

Volume 702: debated on Tuesday 2 November 2021

My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under- Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Lord Callanan) has today made the following statement:

The Government committed, via section 50 of the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018, to report to Parliament annually on the progress that has been made towards putting in place a register of beneficial owners of overseas entities owning land in the UK—“the overseas entities register”.

The overseas entities register is one of a number of proposed corporate transparency reforms which together will play an important role in underpinning a strong, transparent and attractive business environment in the UK while reducing the opportunities for bad actors to abuse our systems and controls.

Since last updating Parliament, in July 2020, the Government published their response to their landmark consultation on reforming Companies House. The response, published in September 2020, set out the Government’s proposals to boost Companies House’s potential as an enabler of business transactions and economic growth, while giving it a bigger role in combating economic crime. The far-reaching reforms include verification of the identity of people who manage or control companies, and anyone else submitting filings, utilising the latest technology; greater powers for Companies House to query and challenge the information submitted to it; and the effective protection of personal information provided to Companies House. Three further consultations were published in December 2020, seeking views on the finer details of the reform package.

These reforms amount to the largest change to our system of setting up and operating companies since the companies register was created over 170 years ago.

The UK continues to lead the global fight against illicit finance and this register will strengthen our already impressive controls. The Financial Action Task Force completed a landmark review of the UK’s regime for tackling money laundering in December 2018, concluding that we have some of the strongest controls in the world.

The Government intend to introduce legislation to Parliament as soon as parliamentary time allows.