Peers and MP’s have warned that laws aimed at tackling money laundering carry too many loopholes and are “unenforceable”.
Government Ministers have drawn up a list of foreign individuals and overseas businesses who own property in the UK and are using the property market as a mechanism to launder money. The register is intended to be publicly available.
In 2016 the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, hosted an anti-corruption summit and announced plans to introduce the register. However a committee of MP’s assessing the “Overseas Entities Bill” have been critical of the legislation claiming that it doesn’t have sufficient “teeth”.
The Chairman of the committee, Lord Faulks, has commented, “The legislation is well drafted but there are some loopholes in the draft bill which, if unaddressed, could jeopardise the effectiveness of this important legislation.” A follow up statement said, “Time is of the essence, the Government must get on with improving this Bill and making it law”.
From 2004 to 2015 the UK instigated criminal investigations into property dealings worth £180 million. Furthermore during 2017, alone, £4 billion pounds worth of property transactions were identified as having been bought by, what has been described as, “high corruption risk individuals”.
It has been suggested that whilst law enforcement agencies cannot access the required information regards “anonymous” foreign buyers, that the introduction of civil penalties may be a more effective solution.