On May 10, 2022, Prince Charles delivered the “Queen’s Speech” to Parliament announcing a number of measures to further enhance the UK’s regulatory regime post-Brexit. One of the measures announced was the planned introduction of the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill (“Economic Crime Bill”), which will, according to government materials published alongside the speech, “crack down on illicit finance and strengthen the UK’s reputation as a place where legitimate businesses can grow.”
This follows on from the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2022, announced earlier this year in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine (the “Act”). Among other things, the Act included provision for a new Register of Overseas Entities owning or buying property in the UK. The Economic Crime Bill is aimed to build on this and other measures of the Act.
Main elements of the Economic Crime Bill will include:
- Companies House Reform
- Companies House will be given powers to check, remove or decline information submitted to, or already on, the Company Register.
- Companies House will be given effective investigation and enforcement powers.
- Enhanced verification requirements
- Verification requirements for people who manage, own, and control companies and other UK registered entities.
- Strengthened transparency requirements to wind up and tackle abuse of limited partnerships (including Scottish Limited Partnerships).
- Cryptoasset seizure
- Creating civil forfeiture powers to seize and recover cryptoassets, described in the government materials as “the principal medium used for ransomware.”
- Information Sharing
- Measures to enable “businesses in the financial sector to share information more effectively”.
Full details of the proposed measures and text of the proposed Economic Crime Bill are forthcoming.
The purpose of the Bill is to: Crack down on the kleptocrats, criminals and terrorists who abuse our open economy, ensuring we drive out dirty money from the UK; Ensure these people, including Putin’s cronies, do not benefit from the UK’s open society; Strengthen the UK's reputation as a place where legitimate businesses can grow and create jobs.