Help end corruption within the property sector

Friday 11 March 2016

In a bid to help prevent the UK from being a safe haven for corrupt money from around the world, the Department for Business Innovation & Skills has began a consultation entitled Beneficial Ownership Transparency.

It's the latest in a range of measures the Government are taking in order to combat corruption and what they call "illicit financial flows".

Property transactions form a major part of the consultation as they have been highlighted by the Government as one of the problem areas that needs tackling as it's an attractive way for criminals to quickly accumulate large sums of money due to property's high net worth. 

The idea behind the consultation is to establish a publicly available central registry showing who really owns and controls UK companies with the aim of tackling corruption, money laundering and terrorist financing by exposing the people behind the façades and bringing them to justice.   

According to a study by the Solicitors Regulation Authority - Conveyancing Thematic Study: Full Report - a quarter of solicitors firms have experienced clients attempting to use property transactions to launder money or commit fraud so it's a massive problem in the UK, particularly London where property values are so high. 

£180m worth of property has been investigated by UK law enforcement between 2004-2014 suspected to be the proceeds of corruption. 75% of these properties use offshore corporate ownership. 

As well as a focus on property, the consultation also seeks ways of improving public procurement methods to combat crime that sometimes occurs when bids are made on UK Government contracts. It includes questions such as: How should foreign company beneficial ownership information be held? What enforcement mechanisms should be used? and what types of sanctions should be used?

Although the consultation is in-depth, you can choose to respond to just one question or all 20, so it doesn't necessarily have to take too much time out of our day to reply. 

If enacted, this would help to uncover investments in the UK that hide the proceeds of illegal activity such as money laundering, bribery and embezzlement.

Download the consultation document in full

HOW TO RESPOND

Complete the official response form - available here

or

Email: transparencyandtrust@bis.gsi.gov.uk

The closing date for direct responses has been extended until Monday 4 April 2016.

However, we'll also be responding as an organisation, so if you prefer, you can send your responses to our Policy and Campaigns Officer Tim Douglas. If you're doing this, please submit by 25 March to give Tim some time to collate and present your arguments in the best way possible.

If you need help

If you have any questions about the policy issues raised in the document please direct them to:
Transparency and Trust Team
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
1 Victoria Street
London
SW1H 0ET