28 July 2015
David Cameron has promised to tackle the practice of overseas money being laundered through the UK property market during a speech delivered in Singapore.
‘I’m determined that the UK must not become a safe haven for corrupt money from around the world’, said Cameron.
Steps to take include looking at whether we can get foreign companies investing in the UK to step up to the same level of transparency Cameron said.
The first step the Prime Minister stated he intends to take in order to tackle this is for the Land Registry to publish this autumn data on which foreign companies own which land and property titles in England and Wales. This will apply to around 100,000 titles held on the Land Register and will show for the first time the full set of titles owned by foreign companies
Cameron commented that around £122 million of property in England and Wales is owned by offshore companies and ‘we know that some high-value properties – particularly in London – are being bought by people overseas through anonymous shell companies, some of them with plundered or laundered cash’.
Determined to make sure that the UK does not ‘become a safe haven for corrupt money from around the world’, Cameron said ‘corrupt officials or organised criminals’ need to be stopped from ‘using anonymous shell companies to invest their ill-gotten gains in London property, without being tracked down’.
David Buxton, CEO of Arachnys, commented: ‘Full disclosure of beneficial ownership would be the most important step towards reducing the extent to which money is laundered through British property.’
‘The practice of purchasing UK properties by money launderers, criminals and terrorists is one of the cheapest and easiest money laundering techniques in the world - there are not many others where you actually make money on rising asset prices. It also contributes to the swathes of central London that are left unoccupied for much of the year - many of those grand houses are money launderers' piggy banks rather than real homes’, he added.