What is the Beneficial Ownership register?

Friday 20 May 2016

As part of the recent international Anti Corruption summit David Cameron made a headline grabbing announcement that foreign companies (currently estimated to hold more than 100,000 UK properties) will have to reveal their true owners.

Under the plans which will follow similar measures announced by the Scottish government, any company buying property (or already owning property) in the UK along with those applying for government contracts will have to appear on a public register of beneficial ownership.

Mr Cameron went on to say he was looking at “reversing the burden of proof, so that if we suspect people of using stolen money to buy property we can force them to prove they accumulated their wealth legitimately — or they will face having it stripped from them by a court”.

The steps are part of a response to pressure following the leak of the Panama Papers and as soon as information about implementation and any penalties for non-compliance become available we will update members. 

Mark Hayward, MD of NAEA responded: “We very much welcome the Prime Minister’s pledge to ensure that anonymous individuals will no longer be able to buy properties in the UK using shell companies to hide their identity. Properties allegedly bought with dirty money impacts supply in the housing market as they are unavailable to potential other buyers who really do want a ‘home’. Of course the devil is always in the detail and the most important element here is who the responsibilities will sit with and how this will be enforced across the housing buying process.”

Chido Dunn, Senior Campaigner in Governments and Corruption for Global Witness, who took part in the NAEA London Forum panel debate on financial crime earlier in the year, said “If enacted and enforced, this is a great move. The government has delivered on what it set out to do on property.”