John receives reply from Minister about Registration of Overseas Entities Bill

John recently wrote to Ministers about speeding up new laws to reveal UK properties bough with dirty money by kleptocrats, oligarchs and organised criminals.

Here is the reply he was sent:

Thank you for your letter of 26 July 2018 about the draft Registration of Overseas Entities Bill, and your kind message of congratulations following my appointment as Miníster for Small Business, Consumers & Corporate Responsibility.

I am grateful for your support of the new register, which will improve transparency and trust in the UK property market, and in our broader company law framework. lt will also assist law enforcement in their investigations and act as a deterrent to money laundering and other illicit activity.

The policy is novel and complex, and the register will be the first of its kind in the world. We need to ensure that the new requirements are workable, proportionate, and that the register strikes the right balance between improving transparency and minimising burdens on legitimate commercial activity. We consider therefore that there is enormous value in the draft Bill undergoing parliamentary pre-legislative scrutiny, which is likely to take place in the autumn. Establishing the register will require significant secondary legislation: new functions will be delegated to the Registrar of Companies and the Land Registries in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern lreland, and they will need to set up systems to put them into effect. We must ensure they have the tools and time needed to deliver this successfully. Above all, we want to deliver a register that is robust, effective and can withstand legal challenge.

Publishing the draft Bill ahead of the summer recess and meeting the timetable committed to, has demonstrated the Government’s commitment to tackling illicit finance and the Bill has been welcomed by stakeholders. You will be aware that there is limited Parliamentary time available in the first session of this Parliament and that it ís highly unlikely that time could be found to introduce the Bill before the second session. The Government remains committed however to introducing the Bill to Parliament early in the second session and for the register to be operational in 2021.

I welcome your support in this work and look forward to working with you on the lnter-Ministerial Group on Anti-Corruption.