The UK has so far failed to impose fines worth as much as £1bn on foreign companies according to new BBC analysis published earlier today (18 May). 

The register was introduced as part of the Economic Crime Act in February 2022, following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Ministers said it would reveal who ultimately owned UK property and also stop foreign criminals using UK property to launder money.

Although the majority of companies have submitted their details, about 5,000 firms with property in England and Wales have not, more than three months after the 31 January deadline, the BBC said in its report. 

"The government suggests the figure is likely to be lower, as some companies may no longer exist and several hundred have already transferred their property. 

"But even if there were just 4,000 firms that are not complying with the law, the total value in fines would add up to £10m per day if the maximum daily financial penalty was imposed on every company that has not supplied its information.

"Over the entire period since the deadline, more than 100 days, this would add up to around £1bn."

Since January, overseas firms that own UK property can be fined up to £2,500 a day unless they declare their owners.

Thousands are still to do so, including firms which have been linked to oligarchs such as Roman Abramovich, but no fines have yet been issued.

The UK government said it was "building cases" against unregistered companies.