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UK Property gives Global Corrupt a Home

New report reveals that property covering 2.25 sq miles of London is owned by secret offshore companies


London, 04 March 2015 36,342 London properties covering a total of 2.25 sq miles are held by hidden companies registered in offshore havens says new research from Transparency International, published today.

The research – analysing data from the Land Registry and Metropolitan Police Proceeds of Corruption Unit – found that 75% of properties whose owners are under investigation for corruption made use of offshore corporate secrecy to hide their identities.

Transparency International today published a report, Corruption on your Doorstep: How corrupt capital is used to buy property in the UK, and launched an online campaign about corrupt money entering the UK property market. A visual story of this journey and interactive map detailing the number of offshore-owned homes per London borough can be viewed at ukunmaskthecorrupt.org

There is growing evidence that the UK property market has become a safe haven for corrupt capital stolen from around the world facilitated by the laws which allow UK property to be owned by secret offshore companies,” said Dr Robert Barrington, Executive Director of Transparency International UK.

“This has a devastating effect on the countries from which the money has been stolen, and it’s hard to see how welcoming in the world’s corrupt elite is beneficial to communities in the UK.  It is astonishing that the UK has sleep-walked into this situation, and the Government needs to act quickly to make sure that the UK does not become the destination of choice for global corruption.

Some relatively simple measures would be a good start, such as the Land Registry requiring transparency over who owns the companies that own so much UK property.”

Key statistics

  • £180m+ worth of property in UK have been brought under criminal investigation as the suspected proceeds of corruption since 2004. This is believed to be only the tip of the iceberg of the scale of proceeds of corruption invested in UK property. Over 75% of the properties under criminal investigation use offshore corporate secrecy
  • The average price of a property under criminal investigation in the UK is £1.5m. The minimum is £130,000, the maximum is £9m and the median is £910,000. 48% of properties investigated were valued at over £1m
  • 36,342 London properties totalling 2.25 sq miles are held by offshore haven companies. Of these, 38% in the British Virgin Islands, 16% in Jersey, 9.5% in Isle of Man, and 9% in Guernsey
  • Almost one in ten properties in the City of Westminster (9.3 per cent), 7.3 per cent of properties in Kensington & Chelsea, and 4.5 per cent in the City of London are owned by companies registered in an offshore secrecy jurisdiction. Today, TI-UK launched an interactive map of London which reveals the statistics for each borough – ukunmaskthecorrupt.org
  • In 2011 alone £3.8bn worth of UK property was bought by British Virgin Islandsregistered companies
  • According to the latest figures, which cover October 2013 to September 2014, estate agents contributed to only 0.05% of all Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) submitted. This figure does not match the risks posed by money launderers to the UK property market

Transparency International makes 10 recommendations for reform, calling for buy in from the UK Government, lawyers, and estate agents to ensure that the UK property market is no longer a safe haven for corrupt funds. Action from the British Overseas Territories is also necessary to end this crisis. The key recommendation is that transparency should be established over who owns the companies that own so much property in the UK through making such transparency a Land Registry requirement.

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Transparency International is the civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption

More Information:

To access the campaign microsite click here

To read and download the report click here

To read our blog on the findings from the research click here

To call on UK political party leaders establish transparency over who owns the companies that own so much property in the UK click here

To follow the news on Twitter use the hashtags #DoorStepCorruption and #OffShoreLondon

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Read 1751 times Last modified on Tuesday, 24 November 2015 12:18

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