President Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine may have put the global spotlight on dirty money but the UK has long been the destination of choice for the corrupt and criminal to launder their ill-gotten gains. 


Britain has for decades been a favoured safe haven of choice for corrupt and criminal illicit finance from around the world.  

With the aid of companies incorporated in the UK and in its offshore financial centres illicit wealth is invested into luxury UK property, and used to buy access to prestigious institutions and fund the privileged lifestyles of kleptocrats from around the world. These financial manoeuvres are made possible with the help of UK professional services including accounting and legal firms. 

Our investigations have identified billions of pounds of suspicious assets in the UK including £6.7 billion worth of UK property. Despite this only a limited amount is ever seized and returned.  

We have uncovered almost 52,000 UK properties still owned anonymously despite a new law designed to reveal their true owners – including firms reportedly owned by kleptocrats, oligarchs and individuals subject to sanctions. 

This lack of transparency means the scale of dirty money entering the UK is unknown, but experts estimate that it is in excess of tens of billions of pounds every year, aided by a network of bankers, lawyers, and accountants, who face few consequences. 


Being a safe haven for dirty money has significant implications for the UK. It compromises national security and diminishes the UK’s credibility when holding kleptocrats around the world to account.  

The National Crime Agency estimates that money laundering costs the UK more than £100 billion each year. The costs are not only reputational, it also deprives people in the nations from which the money has been stolen of funds intended for important public services. 


We are working to end the role of the UK as a safe haven for dirty money through conducting investigations, robust research and targeted advocacy. Our work has been key to pushing through new UK government legislation resulting in a major steps forward which will strengthen the UK’s defences against dirty money. 

The Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act and Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act both represent major steps forward in the fight against corruption. But further reforms and more financing are critical if we are to close the remaining loopholes, ensure that those who help the kleptocrats hide their assets are held to account and properly fund key defences against economic crime. 


NEWS and comment


Through the Keyhole (February 2023)

This research details how almost 52,000 UK properties are still owned anonymously despite a new transparency law designed to reveal their true owners.

Partners in Crime (October 2022)

Our analysis of all LLPs incorporated between April 2001 and September 2021 reveals 21,002 (14%) showed three or more money laundering red flags.

Together in Electric Schemes (March 2022)

This report explores the risks associated with electronic money institutions and calls for more proactive supervision of their activities than there has been to date.