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‘Thousands’ yet to comply with UK property law
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18 May 2023 / britain Print

‘Thousands’ yet to comply with UK property law

An analysis carried out by the BBC has estimated that Britain has failed to impose fines worth as much as Stg £1 billion on foreign companies breaking a law aimed at providing transparency on property ownership.

Since January, overseas firms that own property in Britain can be fined up to £2,500 a day unless they declare their owners.

The BBC report says that “thousands” are still to do so, but no fines have yet been issued.

The British Government said that it was "building cases" against unregistered companies.

Money-laundering targeted

The register was introduced as part of the Economic Crime Act in February 2022, after Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Ministers said that it would stop foreign criminals using British property to launder money.

The BBC analysis finds that, although most companies have submitted their details, about 5,000 firms with property in England and Wales have not, more than three months after the 31 January deadline.

The British Government suggests, however, that the figure is likely to be lower, as some companies may no longer exist, and several hundred have already transferred their property.

Financial penalties

The BBC report says that, even if there were just 4,000 firms that were not complying with the law, the total value in fines would add up to £10 million a day if the maximum daily financial penalty were imposed on every company that had not supplied its information.

Over the entire period since the deadline – more than 100 days – this would add up to around £1 billion, the analysis concludes.

John Barnett (Chartered Institute of Taxation) told the BBC that some foreign companies might not be aware of the new law yet, while others could be struggling to identify and verify all of their beneficial owners. He added, however, that there might be others that had no intention of complying.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland