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UK property register to fight oligarchs and criminals

Public property register designed to tackle dirty money being laundered through the UK goes live

A public property register designed to tackle dirty money being laundered through the UK is due to go live today.

A register of foreign entities will force UK landowners to reveal their identities in a bid to root out oligarchs and criminals buying property.

Kleptocrats and criminal gangs used London to channel cash, turning dirty money into legitimate property investments.

Salary: Steadily rising house prices and relative stability have made the UK attractive to buyers

Steadily rising house prices and relative stability have made the UK attractive to buyers.

Many preferred to hide their assets behind a complex web of shell companies registered in secret offshore tax havens.

But when Britain tried to freeze the oligarchs’ assets earlier this year, authorities found it difficult to trace them.

Business Secretary Lord Callanan said: “Corrupt elites and oligarchs have used UK property as a vehicle to launder illicit money.

“There are still far too many foreign companies channeling their illicit wealth through UK property while they hide behind shell companies in overseas jurisdictions.”

From today, any foreign entity buying property in the UK must disclose its ultimate beneficiary.

A so-called “regulated professional” – who could be a banker, lawyer or tax adviser, among others – would be required to verify the information they provide.

If the buyer lies and the subordinate professional knowingly allows it, both will be sentenced to large fines or even imprisonment for up to five years.

The rules will also apply to foreign landlords who bought properties after 1999 in England and Wales and 2014 in Scotland – the dates when each land registry respectively started collecting data on foreign owners.

Callanan said: “Those who do not follow the rules can face criminal sanctions.”

Rachel Davies of Transparency International UK said: “Enforcement is key to its effectiveness, but it will give criminals and kleptocrats one less place to hide.”

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UK property register to fight oligarchs and criminals

Source link UK property register to fight oligarchs and criminals

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