For the first time, the United Kingdom has implemented European Union’s fifth anti-money laundering legislation, to force the offshore companies holding UK properties to reveal their real owners.
The proposed bill is not country-specific, which means Pakistanis having properties in UK through offshore companies are also compelled to declare their ownership.
The owners’ names will appear on a corporate registry and the draft also requires a company to give an update every year to ensure the information on the register is up-to-date. The consultation closes on 17 September 2018, according to the Registration of Overseas Entities Bill.
Those who profit from some of the UK’s most exclusive properties through illegal use of overseas shell companies can end up in prison for 5 years, along with a virtually unlimited fine, if they fail to provide adequate details of their properties.
While individuals who either fail to register overseas entities or knowingly try to deceive the register by providing false information can face up two years in jail with an unlimited fine.
It’s worth mentioning that anonymous ownership of properties via offshore companies is completely legal, but it is subject to the laws of the country housing those properties.
The proposed bill also affects a large number of Russian oligarchs and multimillionaires, who are among the 130 people to have their assets frozen in a crackdown by British authorities on allegations of money laundering.
Another Initiative Taken by UK Government
This is not the first time the UK Government has taken a step against money laundering. An initiative launched earlier this year follows the Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs), that has been pursued rigorously by UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA).
The UWO was introduced in January 2018, and its aim was to check the properties of people under suspicions of serious allegations, to explain the origin of their assets, including properties worth more than £50,000 pounds.