Trusts: Assets

Treasury written question – answered on 11th January 2023.

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Photo of Drew Hendry Drew Hendry Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Foreign Affairs)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, if he will make an assessment of the potential merits of bringing forward legislative proposals to require that assets which (a) are held by and (b) have been transferred (i) to, (ii) from and (iii) within a trust must always have a clearly defined beneficial owner.

Photo of Andrew Griffith Andrew Griffith The Economic Secretary to the Treasury

The Government recognises that the vast majority of trusts are set up for legitimate reasons. However, there is also a risk that trusts can be used to conceal the beneficial ownership of assets which can facilitate money laundering.

The Trust Registration Service (TRS) is a register of the beneficial ownership of trusts. First set up in 2017, new rules introduced in 2020 extended the scope of the TRS to UK and some non-UK trusts, with some specific exclusions, regardless of whether or not the trust is liable to pay any tax. Trustees of UK resident express trusts were required to register their trusts with the TRS by September 2022, and this information can be made available to law enforcement and other relevant parties on a case-specific basis.

The UK continues to monitor risks associated with trusts: from 16 December 2022, there are additional restrictions on providing trust services to or for the benefit of designated persons and persons connected with Russia. Providing trust services ‘for the benefit of’ a person includes where the person is a beneficiary, is a potential beneficiary, or may be reasonably expected to obtain a significant financial benefit from the trust or similar arrangement. These prohibitions support wider government aims for sharpening sanctions and closing loopholes which could be used to avoid sanctions.

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