Recently in the UK a public consultation has started regarding the plans of the UK government to create an extra category of companies that have to register their ultimate beneficial owner (ubo).
According to the new European anti-moneylaundering legislation, companies based in European countries will have the obligation to register their ultimate beneficial owner in a register that is (practically) public.
According to the consultation document the proposal is to create an obligation to register the ubo of the following categories of foreign companies with activities in the UK (England and Wales):
- foreign companies that purchase property;
- foreign companies that participate in public contracting.
It is interesting to see that the country that is the inventor of the ‘nominee director‘ and the ‘nominee shareholder‘ now tries to better its life. It might pose an example for other European countries.
Q1. UK companies will have to provide beneficial ownership information under domestic legislation or declare that there are no people with significant control. Do you agree that foreign companies who want to buy land or property in England and Wales should be under a similar obligation?
Q2. Do you have any views on the options for holding information set out above?
Q3. Are there any additional considerations for where and how the information is stored that we should consider at this stage?
Q4. What information about their beneficial ownership should foreign companies be asked to provide?
Q5. Should the requirement to provide beneficial ownership information be applied to foreign companies that already own property or land in England and Wales?
Q6. Should the Government work with Devolved Administrations to ensure a single approach across the whole of the UK?
Q7. What are the costs and benefits to business, the economy and society of transparency of the beneficial ownership of foreign companies that own land/property or wish to enter into public contracts?
Q8. How should any new requirements to provide beneficial ownership information of foreign companies purchasing property in the UK be enforced?
Q9. What type of sanctions do you think would be proportionate, effective and dissuasive to ensure beneficial ownership information is obtained:
a) in the case of new foreign companies acquiring land or property in England and Wales; and
b) in the case of existing foreign companies owning land or property in England and Wales (if the obligation to provide beneficial ownership information is extended to them)?
Q10. Do you agree that knowing the beneficial ownership information of those companies participating in public contracting will help the contracting authorities operate a fair and straight forward approach towards the procurement?
Q11. Do you agree this £10million (procurement) threshold would be appropriate for the ideas set out below?
Q12. What are the potential benefits and burdens for contracting authorities and for bidders of the approach in option A (procurement)? Would it provide a proportionate way to deliver the proposal taking into account the 3-year exclusion that would apply for not providing a beneficial ownership unique identifier number?
Q13. What are the potential benefits and burdens for contracting authorities and bidders of the approach in option B (procurement)? Would the 3 year exclusion period be proportionate?
Q14. What are the potential benefits and burdens for contracting authorities and bidders of the approach in option C (procurement)?
Q15. What are the potential benefits and burdens for contracting authorities and bidders of the suggested variation of option C (procurement)?
Q16. How does the approach in option D (procurement) compare with options A-C in practical terms? What are the potential benefits and burdens of option D for contracting authorities and bidders?
Q17. What other issues should be taken into account when considering the options outlined about procurement in the discussion paper?
Q18. Are there other options potentially available to Government regarding procurement, which would achieve the same aims overall, that have not been set out here? If so, what are the associated likely practical constraints and benefits?
Q19. Would the approach proposed in this paper help developing countries combat corruption in the manner described above?
Q20. What would be required from foreign governments in terms of access to local company and personal records in order for the England and Wales register to operate in support of developing countries?