British plan to shine light on foreign property owners to mean more AML data
Irene Madongo
18 March 2016

British plan to shine light on foreign property owners to mean more AML data

A U.K. plan to require foreign businesses to disclose their owners when purchasing property would give bank compliance teams more data to sift through and more work to complete, say industry experts.

In a 37-page proposal published earlier this month, the Department for Business Innovation & Skills (BIS) said it could soon assign foreign companies buying property in England and Wales a unique identifier number and require the firms to disclose their beneficial owners for inclusion in a register made available to law enforcement agents.

The consultation comes on the heels of finalized plans to launch a public register naming individuals who directly or indirectly hold more than 25 percent of shares in a company, or who otherwise wield “significant control” over the corporation. U.K. firms must report the information to Companies House by June and thereafter annually confirm the data.

Taken together, the plans would level the playing field for domestic and foreign firms involved in Britain’s property market, said London-based Kate Higgins, legal director of Mishcon de Reya. The initiatives could also offer banks more resources for their compliance efforts, she said.

Of course, [financial institutions] will still need to obtain paperwork to verify identity but it would be a useful extra resource to identify the beneficial owners,” said Higgins.

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