Legislation to crack down on dirty money in the UK and corrupt elites will be introduced in Parliament tomorrow, 1 March 2022.
Following the commitments announced by the Prime Minister last week, the government has brought forward the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Bill in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The new legislation will help the National Crime Agency prevent foreign owners from laundering their money in UK property and ensure more corrupt oligarchs can be handed an Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO).
The new register will require anonymous foreign owners of UK property to reveal their real identities to ensure criminals cannot hide behind secretive chains of shell companies, setting a new global standard for transparency. Entities who do not declare their ‘beneficial owner’ will face restrictions over selling their property, and those who break the rules could face up to 5 years in prison.
Under the reforms being brought in on UWOs, those who hold property in the UK in a trust will be brought within scope and the definition of an asset’s ‘holder’ will also be expanded to ensure individuals can’t hide behind opaque shell companies and foundations.
The reforms will also remove key barriers to the use of UWOs by increasing time available to law enforcement to review material provided in response to a UWO and reforming cost rules to protect law enforcement agencies from incurring substantial legal costs if they bring a reasonable case that is ultimately unsuccessful.