The UK Government published its analysis and response to the consultation process that it launched last year about a register of beneficial owners of overseas companies.
It sought evidence as to what further steps, beyond UWO legislation, are required to properly address the issues around kleptocratic abuse of our civic administration and property markets. ClampK participated in this process and largely welcomes the Government’s response.
We do however have grave concerns about 2 specific paragraphs.
In Paragraph 24 it states “The Government intends to strike a balance which ensures overseas entities have sufficient time to comply or sell the property while ensuring that the policy’s underlying objective is achieved in a reasonable timeframe”.
This seems to run the risk of facilitating further hiding of assets and is contrary to the intention to assist in uncovering abuses. Legitimate owners and users of foreign registration have nothing to fear from transparency and will not be unduly inconvenienced by having to respond quickly to reasonable requests for registration of information.
In Paragraph 30 it states “The Government therefore intends to allow beneficial interest but not legal title to pass to an overseas legal entity that does not have a valid registration number at completion or settlement. ”
This would seem to be facilitating a further obfuscation of the registration process if Beneficial Ownership is to be allowed to be separated from Legal Title.
We look forward to discussing this further with our colleagues and with Government.