Following a wait of almost five years and expedited due to the UK sanctions announced against Russia, on March 1, 2022, the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Bill (the Economic Crime Bill) was laid before the UK Parliament.
The provisions of the Economic Crime Bill will need to be debated in Parliament but, if passed into law, will amongst other things:
- enhance existing powers in relation to unexplained wealth orders (UWOs);
- increase the transparency over ownership of companies and property in the UK by introducing a Register of Overseas Entities (ROE) to require foreign owners of UK property to reveal their full identities;
- impose a strict civil liability test for monetary penalties, meaning the UK Office for Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) would no longer be required to evidence that organizations had knowledge or a “reasonable cause to suspect” sanctions are being breached before being liable for fines; and
- give new powers to OFSI to publicly identify organizations that breach financial sanctions irrespective of whether or not they are the subject of a penalty.