New legislation will be introduced today to help clampdown on so-called “dirty money” in the UK, along with corrupt elites, as part of the response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The tough new law is designed to help the National Crime Agency prevent foreign owners from laundering their money in UK property.
Shady oligarchs will be handed an Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO) enabling enforcement agencies to investigate and recover the proceeds of crime.
The new register will require anonymous foreign owners of UK property to reveal their real identities to ensure criminals cannot hide behind secretive chains of shell companies, setting a new global standard for transparency.
Entities who do not declare their ‘beneficial owner’ will face restrictions over selling their property, and those who break the rules could face up to five years in prison.
Under the reforms being brought in on UWOs, those who hold property in the UK in a trust will be brought within scope and the definition of an asset’s ‘holder’ will also be expanded to ensure individuals can’t hide behind opaque shell companies and foundations.
Prime minister Boris Johnson said: “There is no place for dirty money in the UK. We are going faster and harder to tear back the façade that those supporting Putin’s campaign of destruction have been hiding behind for so long.
“Those backing Putin have been put on notice: there will be nowhere to hide your ill-gotten gains.”
Home Secretary Priti Patel added: “Government has taken unprecedented action in the face of barbaric Russian aggression.
“Time is up for Putin’s cronies hiding dirty money in the UK and this new legislation will help to crack down on economic crime, including removing key barriers to using Unexplained Wealth Orders.”
The new register will shine a light on who owns what in the UK so we can flush out the oligarchs, criminals and kleptocrats who think they can use UK property to hide their illicitly obtained wealth.
Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “The new register will shine a light on who owns what in the UK so we can flush out the oligarchs, criminals and kleptocrats who think they can use UK property to hide their illicitly obtained wealth.
“A UWO places a legal requirement on an individual to explain the source of their wealth. It can also be applied to politicians or officials from outside the European Economic Area, or those associated with them.”