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Draft Bill for beneficial ownership register published

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The government has published in draft the Registration of Overseas Entities Bill, setting out provisions to establish a new beneficial ownership register of overseas entities that own UK property. The draft Bill is open for consultation until 17 September 2018.

The Bill follows the commitment made at the anti-corruption summit in 2016 to establish such a register, in order to combat money laundering and achieve greater transparency in the UK property market. As announced in January 2018, the government expects to introduce the Bill formally to Parliament in 2019. Following Royal Assent and the making of secondary legislation, it intends the register to become operational in 2021.

Overseas entities will be required to register their beneficial ownership information with Companies House before obtaining legal title to UK property via the Land Registries. Overseas entities that own UK property when the requirements come into force, as well as any overseas entities that subsequently acquire UK property, will be required to register (and regularly update) their beneficial ownership information before they can undertake certain transactions with that property, such as selling or leasing the land, or creating a legal charge over the land, such as a mortgage.

The government invites views on a group of specific questions under the following broad topics:

  • overseas entities that may not have beneficial owners or managing officers;
  • power to exempt certain types of overseas entities, such as foreign governments or public authorities, from the requirement to register for land registration purposes;
  • power to modify the application of the regime for overseas entities already disclosing beneficial ownership information to an ‘equivalent’ public register;
  • registration of entities unable to identify their beneficial owners;
  • scope of the prohibitions to certain dispositions relating to land;
  • power to disapply the effect of the prohibitions placed on land; and
  • exceptions to prohibitions placed on land.

The draft Bill is open for consultation until 17 September 2018. See