Offshore owners of British property will be forced to reveal their true identities or face jail sentences and unlimited fines under draft laws that aim to end the UK’s reputation as a high-risk jurisdiction for money laundering.
The legislation follows years of scandals involving the acquisition of high-value UK property by offshore companies, and concerns that a lack of regulation was allowing corrupt money into the housing market.
The National Crime Agency said three years ago that overseas criminal gangs were using British property transactions to launder billions of pounds in corrupt funds. Parliament’s foreign affairs committee went further earlier this year, saying that corrupt Russian funds laundered through the UK, including via property, posed a threat to national security.
Under the new legislation, overseas companies that own UK properties will be required to identify their true owners on a publicly available register. The government said the register was