Draft Registration of Overseas Entities Bill Contents


224.It is now three years since the 2016 Global Anti-Corruption Summit, when the proposals now contained in this legislation were first announced. In the intervening period, the need for a Register of Overseas Entities has increased. We have shown how investment in UK property by overseas entities with unknown beneficial owners has continued. Public concern about this issue has grown. The new Director of the Serious Fraud Office, Lisa Osofsky, recently laid out her ambition to speed up her agency’s response to fraud and corruption.247 We hope that the proposed Register will help the SFO and other enforcement agencies such as the FCA and NCA to achieve this important objective.

225.But time is of the essence. We have outlined our conviction that implementation of the Bill should accompany the transposition of the Fifth EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive. The Government should match the determination of its enforcement agencies by introducing both pieces of legislation to Parliament without delay.

226.This Register will be the first of its kind in the world, but it will work together with existing anti-corruption measures. If the Government delays the introduction of the draft Bill to Parliament until the next Parliamentary session, it may create an unnecessary incongruence between this legislation and the Fifth EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive. We therefore recommend that the Bill and 5AMLD be presented to Parliament as soon as possible.

227.Parliament will need to keep a close eye on the operation of the Register, and on the extent to which it is achieving its aims. While we recognise that measuring the success of this legislation will be difficult, we expect the Government to publish, in an annual Written Statement, their assessment of the extent to which this legislation has achieved its aims.

228. In the near future, scrutiny of the Register may be conducted by Select Committees of both Houses. Five years after the Act has been brought fully into force, further scrutiny of the legislation itself will provide instructive lessons for other anti-corruption efforts. Consideration should be given to the establishment of a Select Committee to carry out post-legislative scrutiny of the Registration of Overseas Entities Act.

247 Barney Thompson, ‘UK fraud chief moves to speed up investigations’, Financial Times (April 2019) : https://www.ft.com/content/b5eb36b6-680f-11e9-9adc-98bf1d35a056 [accessed 1 May 2019]; Public Finance, ‘Serious Fraud Office ‘should be more focused (April 2019): https://www.publicfinance.co.uk/news/2019/04/serious-fraud-office-should-be-more-focused [accessed 1 May 2019]

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