BEIS has heralded the Registration of Overseas Entities Bill which will require all foreign companies that own UK properties to disclose their beneficial owners on a public register. Key provisions of the Bill include that:
- any foreign entity that sells or leases property must first publicly declare its beneficial owner(s). If it does not, this is a criminal offence punishable with up to 5 years’ imprisonment and an unlimited fine
- any individual who fails to register an entity when instructed to do so, or who knowingly tries to deceive the register can be imprisoned for up to 2 years and subject to an unlimited fine.
The Secretary of State will have the right to require an overseas entity to register if it is the proprietor of a relevant interest in land and has not itself already registered.
Comments on the draft Bill are welcomed until 17 September.