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Overseas firms owning land in the UK need to publicly declare the owners, under the new UK laws to crack down on money laundering and corruption from real estate.
The government recently announced that overseas firms with unregistered beneficial owners and companies housed in the UK will be charged penalties such as sale restrictions or hefty fines. Foreign firms were required to declare their beneficial owners by Tuesday, 31st January 2023, under the new AML measures introduced by the authorities to flush out corrupt elites.
Now that the deadline has passed, the firms that have not provided data to Companies House, UK’s government agency, could charge them with sanctions, including prosecution or financial penalties.
The register was added for strict economic measures announced in response to Russia’s incursion into Ukraine, targeting illegal assets supporting the Putin regime. The new law also exposes criminals that use overseas firms to move money. Recently, the “Cryptoqueen”, Dr Ruja Lgnatova, a most wanted scammer was publicly declared the beneficial owner of two intermediaries in Guernsey because of new requirements.
Business Minister Lord Callanan revealed, “There is nowhere for the criminals and corrupt elites to hide. We will be using all the tools at our disposal, including fines and restrictions, to crack down on foreign companies who have not complied.”
The firms which are not registered already get rejected automatically from registering ownership of any new land by the HM Land Registry. Any UK buyers will not be able to move the title to the deed of any land bought from non-compliant firms.
The Companies House is now evaluating and scheduling matters for enforcement actions. The further regulations will also empower Companies House to impose fines on land owned by non-compliant organisations and pursue other lawful avenues.
Companies House and Insolvency Service will also earn improved controls from Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill. With an investment of up to £20 million of allocated spending, both firms will recruit new teams of analytical experts to improve the capability of tackling money laundering.
Louise Smyth, CEO of Companies House, said, “The implementation of the Register of Overseas Entities has been another huge step forward in the transformation of Companies House and our role in helping combat economic crime.”
“We cannot be clearer in our message to these entities; if you ignore warnings and fail to register before the deadline, you will face consequences. This includes not only the prospect of restrictions on your land or property but also a possible fine, prison sentence, or both,” he added.
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