LONDON, April 5 Britain said it would seek to
introduce the world's first public register of the owners of
foreign companies which own property in the country, in response
to growing public unease that buyers are hiding behind obscure
London property especially has attracted foreign buyers in
recent years thanks to its mix of top-end apartments, luxury
penthouses and gleaming skyscrapers alongside corporations who
use the city as global hub.
"While the government welcomes legitimate foreign investment
in the UK, overseas investors in the UK property market have
also included criminals laundering the proceeds of crime," the
business ministry said on Wednesday.
The register would show the beneficial owners of real estate
owned by foreign companies and other legal entities, it said.
The vast majority of overseas companies that own property in
London are registered in tax havens, according to a report by
Transparency International UK and Thomson Reuters released late
The release of the "Panama Papers" last year also shone a
light on firms and individuals who use complex structures to
base themselves abroad, putting the issue of tax avoidance at
the top of the global agenda.
The government is asking overseas investors, property and
transparency experts to submit evidence until May 15 as it
assesses what impact the register might have on inward
Firms are already required to register with Britain's
corporate register, Companies House.
(Reporting by Costas Pitas; editing by Stephen Addison)