Document leaks highlight need for beneficial ownership register

Propertymark has long supported proposals for a system that highlights ownership and control of overseas companies and other legal entities as well as ones within the UK.

Pandora papers

Files revealing how wealthy individuals can shield their income and their assets from taxation through hiding them in “tax havens” were leaked via the Guardian and BBC.

The largest leak of offshore data in history, shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, has helped expose a series of high-profile individuals as being complicit with hiding assets for tax-avoidant purposes.

Beneficial ownership register

The scandals which have been highlighted through the leak have proven how high-risk the property sector can be for money laundering activities, especially as the true identity of owners can be hidden through the use of overseas shell companies. 

Propertymark has long called for a public register of overseas beneficial owners and has worked with the UK Government on how this would be implemented, however they have failed to introduce the register yet. 

Criminal funds can be concealed and made to look legitimate through an untraceable offshore ‘company’ and subsequently the purchasing of UK property. 

Despite repeated promises, including being mentioned in the December 2019 Queen’s Speech, the UK Government has failed to introduce a register to deal with this. 

The revelations over the practices of a number of high-profile global figures within the papers is of serious concern. The UK Government must stop sitting on its hands and act now

Mark Hayward Chief Policy Advisor | Propertymark

Anti-Money Laundering

Property agents and auctioneers play an important role in helping tackle economic crime. One of the most significant issues identified in the UK Government’s AML National Risk Assessment Report, published at the end of 2020, was the use of criminal groups acquiring properties for criminal activity and launder the proceeds.

While the current Money Laundering Regulations (MLRs) were recently updated, combatting money laundering activities is an ongoing issue. Views and evidence on the steps that the UK Government has proposed to take to make time-sensitive amendments to the MLRs are being welcomed until the closing date of 14 October 2021.

28 Jul 2021
Consultations for Money Laundering Regulations update launched

Estate agents, letting agents and auctioneers are among those being called upon to help improve the overall effectiveness of the UK’s anti-money laundering (AML) regulatory and supervisory regime.