As the joint parliamentary committee met on Monday, they raised their voice over the proposed anti-money laundering bill that fails to prevent or restrict foreign buyers from using trusts to launder money in the UK.
The bill is supposed to be a major move by Prime Minister Theresa May to prohibit convicts and fraudulent foreign authorities from altering the sources of money in the UK.
The MPs from the committee of 12 members, comprising members from both the House of Commons and the House of Lords oversaw the bill. They claimed that the bill if enacted would fail to frame an appropriate structure to corroborate and administer the reliability of property-owners’ filings. They also pressed concerns on the fact that the anti-money laundering bill does not pressurise the owners from foreign country to reveal their proper entities in the country.
According to the report of the joint committee on the draft Registration of Overseas Entities Bill, properties of worth £180 million were investigated between 2004 and 2015, under the pretences of criminal investigation.
While 160 properties with worth of more than £4 billion, purchased by highly corrupt individual came under the scrutiny, 86,000 properties in England and Wales were recognised as the properties of “tax havens”. The report also mentions that approximately £90 billion is transferred illegally from the UK every year.
Along with Edward Faulks, Conservative chairman of the joint committee, the lawmakers from the House of Commons and House of Lords have raised concerns regarding the bill to minimise money laundering.
Faulks, in relations with the bill and its limitations said, “We welcome this much-needed legislation as one of the vital tools required to create a hostile environment for money launderers who want to use the UK property market to hide unlawful funds.”
“The legislation is well drafted, but there are still some loopholes in the draft bill which, if unaddressed, could jeopardise the effectiveness of this important piece of legislation,” he added.
The lawmakers in regards with bill said, “The UK is valued for its democratic political environment, its independent legal system and its rigid protections. While these advantages have made property in this country popular among legitimate investors, they also appeal to those, such as money launderers, who may wish to use property to conceal illicit funds.”
To minimise money laundering some countries like New Zealand, India, Thailand and Switzerland have prohibited foreign individuals from owning property in the country. The report of the joint committee also asserts that the objective to develop a “hostile environment” for the corrupt individuals is at the prospect of jeopardy due to a lack of “teeth”.