Today the government called time on dirty money in UK property. The announcement to introduce transparency into the housing market should send a warning to the world’s corrupt that our homes are not for sale to secret companies. If the government is serious about making our cities work for everyone, the legislation must be tabled this year.’ - Naomi Hirst, Senior Campaigner at Global Witness
At the International Anti-Corruption Summit last year the government committed to introducing a public register of foreign companies owning UK property, stating that the register would prevent the corrupt from being able to move, launder, and hide illicit funds through London’s property market.
This pledge followed several Global Witness exposes revealing how London properties were owned by anonymous companies registered in overseas jurisdictions which could be linked to individuals accused of corruption and human rights abuses in their home countries.
In April this year, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy published its proposals for the register. The Department proposed that all overseas companies owning UK properties submit the names of the ultimate owners to a public register held by Companies House. Without the information, properties cannot be sold.
We think the proposals are a positive step forward and we are really pleased to see transparency in housing referred to in the Queen's Speech today. However the legislation must be tabled this year. Without the register the corrupt will continue to use our homes to profit from the proceeds of crime. If fully resourced and enforced the new law will send a signal to the world’s corrupt that the UK is no longer open to their business.
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