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Register of Overseas Entities goes live

On August 1st regulations in the UK came into play requiring all foreign companies owning UK property to identify their owners in an official register. This move was seen by many as an effort to reduce the ease with which Russian oligarchs, and their money can operate undetected in the UK.

The register of Overseas Entities, forms part of the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2022. It is an Open-Source tool that will be invaluable in identifying the true scale of foreign held assets within the United Kingdom.

Junior business minister, Martin Callanan is supportive of the new measures: “To ensure we are free of corrupt elites with suspicious wealth, we need to know who owns what. We are lifting the curtain and cracking down on those criminals attempting to hide their illicitly obtained wealth.”

Set out with the intention of increasing ‘transparency’, those who wish to buy, sell, or transfer property or land in the UK, have until 31 January 2023 to register with Companies House, and state who their registrable beneficial owners or managing officers are. The new register will also cover all property bought since January 1999 in England and Wales, and will be punishable by fines, or time in prison for those who do not comply.

In addition to this, new land registration requirements within the Act are set to be introduced. As of September 5th, under the Land Provisions Act, it will become compulsory for any overseas entity that wishes to be a proprietor of land to be registered on the Register of Overseas Entities with Companies House.

In order to be included on the register, it will be necessary for the overseas entity to provide its name, country of incorporation and service address. In addition, any beneficial owner of the entity will be forced to provide personal identifying information, including: their name, date of birth and nationality, residential address, and an address for service. Much of this information will be publicly available, with the more personal information including date of birth and exact addresses likely to remain private.

The register will play a crucial role in helping to uncover assets that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. Forcing any overseas entity to name their beneficial owners will allow more thorough and diligent asset tracing investigations. For many years it had been difficult to get to the bottom of exactly who benefitted from foreign companies holding assets in the UK, but the introduction of this register looks to have put those days behind us.

To enquire about Conflict International’s Asset Tracing offering, please email our Head of Investigations, Jane Carey here.

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