New bill aims to tackle hidden ‘dirty money’ in UK
Legislation will be introduced tomorrow to crack down on so-called “dirty money” and corrupt elites as part of the response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The tough new law will help the National Crime Agency prevent foreign owners from laundering their money in UK property.
Corrupt oligarchs will be handed an Unexplained Wealth Order (UWO) enabling enforcement agencies to investigate and recover the proceeds of crime.
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.
A 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.
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 said: “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.”
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.”
Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves said: “Labour has repeatedly called for these measures and supports this legislation. We will scrutinise the strength of these measures, which the Government must enact in their strongest form to tackle dirty money once and for all.
“The long overdue Register of Overseas Entities, originally promised in 2016, must now be implemented at speed. Any transition period must be completed by the end of March and be accompanied by tough enforcement measures.”