Proposals for the first register of foreign-owned property aimed at preventing money laundering in Britain means that Jersey companies owning land in the UK will have to reveal their true owners to UK authorities.
More than £90bn is estimated to be laundered illegally through the UK each year, according to the all-party parliamentary committee scrutinising the registration of overseas entities bill. The legislation is set to adress UK government concerns that opaque company structures can be used by criminals to conceal the proceeds of crime through property acquisition. If the bill passes,l all companies anywhere holding international capital into UK property will be required to reveal their true owners.
About one in every three UK properties acquired using a offshore structure links back to a Channel Island company, according to a research paper produced by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The Draft Bill would make it obligatory for such companies to reveal their beneficial ownership - who truly benefits from the assets they own - in future.
We are proud of our role in facilitating investment into the UK property market. Offshore property ownership can act as a gateway for further investment in the UK. It creates jobs and boosts the secondary property market, so benefits the UK economy"
"Jersey is one of the main jurisdictions that supports commercial property investment in the UK. We have the expertise, the track record and the close working relationship with the City of London to facilitate property investment for international investors," Joe Moynihan, Chief Executive Officer at Jersey Finance, told local news outlet Bailiwick Express.
He said he did not believe it should be a source of concern to the island that the UK land registry would publish details of overseas-owned property and that it would rather serve to highlight the good quality of Channel Island international investment in the UK property market.
"We are proud of our role in facilitating investment into the UK property market. Offshore property ownership can act as a gateway for further investment in the UK. It creates jobs and boosts the secondary property market, so benefits the UK economy," Moynihan added.
Between 2004 and 2015, £180m of UK property was subject to criminal investigation as suspected proceeds of corruption. In 2017, it was suspected that over 160 properties valued over £4bn were purchased by high-corruption-risk buyers.
According to the Draft Registration of the Overseas Entity Bill, the register would need to be updated any time an overseas entity sought to register proprietorship of certain interests in property.