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Public Service: Corruption

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills written question – answered on 7th June 2016.

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Photo of Julian Knight Julian Knight Conservative, Solihull

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, what steps he plans to take in response to the leaked documents relating to the operations of Mossack Fonseca to ensure that foreign officials and politicians (a) in general and (b) from Pakistan who own property in the UK do not use such property to hide their assets.

Photo of Anna Soubry Anna Soubry The Minister of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

At the International Anti-Corruption Summit in London on 12 May, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister announced that we will require foreign companies that own or purchase UK properties or bid on UK Government procurement contracts to provide details of their beneficial owners to a public central register. This will be the first register of its kind in the world.

Additionally as of 6 April this year all UK companies have been required to hold a register of people with significant control over their company. This applies to all UK companies regardless of whether they own property.

These two registers combined will ensure that individuals will not be able to hide behind corporate structures to obscure their ownership of property or UK companies.

It is important to note that this work started before the release of the panama papers, with my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister committing to create a register of people with significant control at the UK led G8 meeting in 2013, and the commitment to consider a new register of foreign companies that purchase property being made in July 2015.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills will consult with experts to develop the policy throughout the year and consult formally on the detail of the policy in due course. Implementation of the new register requirements is expected to require both primary and secondary legislation, which we intend to introduce when Parliamentary time allows.

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