LONDON, Jan.18 (Xinhua) -- Britain's Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on Thursday announced the world's first public register that requires overseas companies which own or buy property in the country to provide details of their ultimate owners.
The register is a move by the government to crack down on criminals who launder money through the British property market.
A government spokesperson said properties in Britain worth 250 million U.S. dollars has been under criminal investigation for being linked to corruption since 2004.
The government is set to publish relevant draft laws this summer. The register will go live by early 2021.
Over 75 percent of the properties currently under investigation have been suspected of being used off-shore corporate secrecy, a tactic regularly seen by investigators pursuing high-level money laundering, added the spokesperson.
The register will require overseas companies that own or buy property in Britain to provide details of their ultimate owners.
This will help reduce opportunities for criminals, who try to use shell companies to buy properties in London and elsewhere to launder illicit proceeds.
"We are committed to protecting the integrity and reputation of our property market to ensure the UK is seen as an attractive business environment -- a key part of our Industrial Strategy," said British Business Secretary Greg Clark
"This world-first register will build on our reputation for corporate transparency as well as help create a hostile environment for economic crimes like money laundering," he added.