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In the UK, a joint parliamentary Committee has commented on the draft Registration of Overseas Entities Bill. The Bill aims to establish a publicly-accessible register of overseas companies and individuals who own property in the UK.
The Committee said, “there are still some loopholes in the draft Bill which, if unaddressed, could jeopardise the effectiveness of this important piece of legislation”. These ‘loopholes’ include the lack of verification checks to prevent criminals from submitting false information. In addition, the legislation doesn’t cover trusts which could be used to circumvent the law, whilst MPs are concerned about enforceability, industry groups have said it violates basic privacy rights.
This is another piece to the ongoing debate around registries of beneficial ownership, and the question around the powers of registers like Companies House to validate the information submitted to them.
In the US, the Senate Banking Committee held a hearing on Tuesday about combating money laundering and illicit financing by anonymous shell companies. Acting Deputy Assistant Director of the Criminal Investigative Division of the FBI, Steven M. D’Antuono, gave a great summary of the problem which you can find here.
According to Transparency International, in 2018 suspicious offshore shell companies and similar entities put more than £4 billion ($5.1 billion) into real estate in London and elsewhere in Britain.