Overseas businesses bidding for government contracts will also have to declare their assets and owners under the plan announced by Mr Cameron at a summit of international leaders in London aimed at tackling the problems of corruption across the globe.
The prime minister also described international tax evasion by the use of offshore havens as destroying jobs and holding back growth. Corruption, he said, was a “cancer at the heart of so many of our problems”, trapping people in poverty and undermining security by making people more susceptible to the “poisonous ideology of extremists”.
“I profoundly believe that this has to change – and it has to change in every country. Make no mistake, corruption affects us all, Britain included,” he said.
A Downing Street spokesman said the plans for a register of foreign companies owning UK property would include those who already own property in the UK – a total of about 100,000 properties in England and Wales, with 44,000 of them in London – as well as those seeking to buy.
Mr Cameron said the register would mean “corrupt individuals and countries will no longer be able to move, launder and hide illicit funds through London’s property market, and will not benefit from our public funds”.
Cabinet Office Minister Matthew Hancock told the BBC, “It does not matter where in the world your company is registered if you own property in London or sell things to government, as part of government procurement, then you have to declare the beneficial ownership, in other words the ultimate ownership of the company.”