Property in the UK: a Home for Corrupt Money


Human Wrongs Watch

4 March 2015, Transparency International* — It is well-known that the global rich are buying up large parts of London. But who they really are and where their money comes from is too often a well-kept secret. They use secret offshore companies to buy the properties and don’t disclose their identities.

Source: Transparency International

Source: Transparency International

These secret companies (or shell companies) are a common way for moving corrupt money around the world.

They can hide money that corrupt politicians divert from investments in schools and hospitals and they can hide the proceeds of other crimes.

The corrupt are helped to buy properties by lawyers, accountants and estate agents who do not ask where the money is coming from – which by law in most countries, including the UK, they are supposed to do.

Today Transparency International UK is publishing Corruption on your doorstep: How corrupt capital is used to buy property in the UK. This investigation of the London land registries shows just how extensive the use of secret offshore companies is to buy property:

  • 36,342 properties covering 2.2 square miles  (5.7 square kilometres) of London – an area twice the size of London’s financial district – are owned by shell companies.
  • 75 per cent of UK properties that are currently being investigated because of corruption are registered in secret safe havens.
Source: Transparency International

Source: Transparency International

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.” – Robert Barrington, executive director, Transparency International UK
Image of website

Source: Transparency International

Transparency International UK has created a visual story of the journey corrupt funds take from origin country to the British real estate market on its ukunmaskthecorrupt.org website.

It is launching a petition to call for transparency over who owns the companies that own so much property in the UK. You can sign the petition here: End Corrupt Money in UK Property

Become part of the movement to stop the secrecy that helps the corrupt use their ill-gotten gains to fund luxury lifestyles. Help us Unmask the Corrupt. Tweet your support using the hashtags #DoorstepCorruption #OffshoreLondon

Unmask the Corrupt campaign banner

Source: Transparency International

Unmask the Corrupt is a global campaign by Transparency International to force governments to outlaw the use of shell companies by introducing public registries of the real owners.

It is also calling for tighter controls on the facilitators of corrupt deals to ensure that anyone who sells luxury goods, including properties, reports suspicious transactions.

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