The government has claimed that three quarters of the property industry agree that new measures announced this week to clamp down on shady foreign companies who own property in the UK will increase transparency and reduce money laundering.
The measures contained within new legislation laid down in parliament follow recent investigations by both the National Crime Agency and a parliamentary committee, both of which concluded that the UK’s lack of regulation was enabling billions of pounds to be laundered illegally.
Those who are behind foreign companies which buy UK property will soon have to reveal their true identities or face up to five years in jail when it becomes illegal to hide behind shell companies when acquiring property in the UK. The government is also to set up a public register detailing the beneficial owners of overseas companies that buy property here.
Once the new money laundering laws come into effect next year, any foreign company buying or leasing properties in the UK will have to publicly reveal its beneficial owner and register their companies when told to do so.
Anyone caught trying to deceive the register by providing false information could face up to two years in jail and an unlimited fine.
“For too long criminals have been able to use the property industry as a front for investing dodgy funds, hiding dirty money and evading the law. This stops now,” says UK government minister Lord Duncan (pictured, right).
“Most people who invest in property across the UK do so fairly, and legitimately, but the UK government is clear that there is no longer any room for those that seek to exploit the system to hide.”
Read more about money laundering.