LONDON - In an effort to crackdown on money-laundering in the the country’s real estate industry new guidelines have been placed to require more transparency in financial transactions for property. The Government has announced that the UK will be the first country to a public register showing the owners of property under the control of foreign companies and individuals.
The report states that £25million of property is currently frozen due to the National Crime Agency as a result of an international corruption investigations.
Since 2004 more than £180million of property is believed to be bought by corrupt financial arrangements. Of those suspected of corruption 75% are using overseas companies to shield the identity of the real owners.
On 5 April 2017 the government began asking for evidence from overseas investors, property and transparency experts for ideas on how this register could be created and distributed. It is required by the government that all businesses in the UK be registered with Companies House.
Business Minister Margot James said in the report: ‘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.’
For estate agents and property firms Mark Hayward of National Association of Estate Agents Propertymark said of the new policies:
‘This new register will set a gold standard for transparency and enhance the reputation of the UK property market as an attractive place to do business. We will be working closely with our members to help them understand the requirements that will help shape the world’s first register of its kind.’
A call for evidence will be open until 15 May 2017 for the UK Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy.