Recently, the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2022(ECA 2022) received Royal Assent.  It covers three separate areas.

  • It establishes a register of overseas entities and their beneficial owners and require overseas entities who own or wish to acquire land to register in certain circumstances;
  • It makes additional provisions about UWOs;
  • It makes additional provisions about sanctions.

Register of overseas entities

Part 1 of the ECA 2022 sets up a register of overseas entities, which will include information about their beneficial owners and makes provision designed to compel overseas entities to register if they already own land (and were registered as proprietor at the Land Registry on or after 1 January 1999) or wish to acquire or dispose of land in certain circumstances.

An “overseas entity” is defined as a legal entity that is governed by the law of a country or territory outside the United Kingdom, including a body corporate, partnership or other entity that is a legal person under the law by which it is governed.

The ECA 2022 requires the registrar of companies for England and Wales to establish and keep a register of overseas entities consisting of:

  • A list of registered overseas entities.
  • Documents delivered to the registrar or regulations made under it, or otherwise in connection with the register.
  • Any other information required to be included in the register or regulations made under it.

The list of registered overseas entities must contain the name of each overseas entity that has made an application for registration and has not been removed from the list.

Guidance from government and regulators regarding how and when entities should report is likely to be published imminently.

Owners of UK real estate through offshore companies should get ready to provide the information requested by the register.