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Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes told The Times yesterday that “The UK will always be open to legitimate and genuine investors who are committed to helping our economy and businesses grow. However, we will not tolerate people who do not play by the rules and seek to abuse the system.”
While details are still scant and we await clarification from the Home Office, Dolfin certainly welcomes their intent: to benefit genuine investors who intend to support the UK’s economy – as well as the wealth managers and advisers who serve them. Notably, it seems the new rules will require investment in active and trading businesses via equities, rather than the Government bonds that have been permitted in the past. The Home Office has also said in future there will be a provision for pooled investments, supported by the Government, to back projects with a “clear economic benefit to the UK” such as supporting small and medium-sized businesses. Finally, from next year, regulated auditors will assess applicants’ financial and business interests and check they have had control of their funds for at least two years.
“Regulation can often be improved once it is clearer how it is working in practice and these proposed changes to the UK Investor Visa scheme are a perfect example,” said Dolfin CEO Denis Nagy. “The focus we’re now seeing on investments into UK corporate debt and equities at the expense of gilts is an excellent idea since it encourages investment in actual UK businesses. I’m also intrigued by the mooted ideas around pooled investments which sound like they could be a boon to smaller businesses who might particularly need it in a post-Brexit landscape.”
Dolfin has long put an emphasis on diligent on-boarding of UK Investor Visa clients – according to the existing rules and FCA requirements – and has a dedicated team of specialists, including Chinese and Russian speakers, who conduct the important due diligence demanded by the scheme. “We will have a clearer idea of the details of the changes in the new year,” concludes Nagy “but any development that rewards genuine entrepreneurs and investors while making it harder for those – foreign investors or their advisers – looking to skirt the rules for their own purposes is something I warmly welcome.”