On July 23, 2018, the U.K.'s Government Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy launched a consultation on a draft Bill that would introduce a register of beneficial owners for overseas legal entities that own U.K. property. Since April 6, 2016, the U.K. has required U.K. companies, limited liability partnerships and societates europaeae to establish and maintain a register of persons with significant control over them and since June 30, 2016 and those entities have been required to file such information with Companies House where it is publicly available on the People with Significant Control register.

Currently, information about overseas owners of land or property is often limited to the entity's name and territory of incorporation and it is unclear who ultimately owns and/or controls the entity. The aim of the draft Bill is to prevent and combat the use of land in the U.K. by overseas entities for the purposes of laundering money or investing illicit funds.

The draft Bill will require overseas entities—which are broadly defined to encompass any legal entity, regardless of the form they take, that are governed by the law of a country or territory outside the U.K.—to take steps to identify their beneficial owners and to register them with Companies House. Registered entities will be required to update this information annually. An overseas entity that registers with Companies House will: (i) not be able to register as an owner of the land and will therefore not obtain full legal title; and (ii) will not be able to register certain dispositions through the U.K. land registries. Failure to provide the annual updated information or delivering (or causing to be delivered) misleading, false or deceptive information will be offenses.

Alongside the draft Bill, the BEIS has also published an impact assessment, a document providing an overview of the proposals and a research paper on the proposed expansion of the transparency obligations. The consultation closes on September 17, 2018.

The consultation page can be viewed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/draft-registration-of-overseas-entities-bill, the draft Bill can be viewed at: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/draft-registration-of-overseas-entities-bill, the overview and questions can be viewed at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/727901/2.
, the impact assessment can be viewed at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/727827/3.
and the research paper can be viewed at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/727828/4.

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