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Who really owns the UK?

Written by Robert Barrington on Thursday, 8 May 2014

If you walk down a residential street in central London, the chances are that some, perhaps the majority, of property is owned by overseas buyers.


If you walk down a residential street in central London the chances are that some, perhaps the majority, of property is owned by overseas buyers.

You might wonder who they are. To find out your first port of call would be the Land Registry which lists who owns property in England and Wales.

What this might tell you is that many properties are indeed owned by overseas buyers – but not the ones you would expect. You will almost certainly not find the names of Russian Oligarchs or Chinese government officials or the children of foreign dictators. You will probably find unknown shell companies based in off-shore jurisdictions like the British Virgin Islands the Cayman Islands and the Channel Islands.

The problem is that the Land Registry itself does not know who is behind these shell companies, or in the jargon, who is the ‘beneficial owner’ of the property.

When transparency is so poor that not even the Land Registry knows who really owns Britain, the space has been created in which corruption can thrive. Corrupt money can be used to buy British property with no scrutiny or accountability. This just makes life easier for corrupt individuals looking to hide their stolen assets and buy a London lifestyle.

TI-UK believes that the Land Registry should know who really owns the UK by requiring those who purchase property to declare the individuals who are the beneficial owners. You can read our views here in Tuesday’s Financial Times.

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Read 4100 times Last modified on Tuesday, 24 November 2015 11:47
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Robert Barrington

Robert is TI-UK's Executive Director. You can view his full bio here, and tweet him @TIukED.

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