Real estate used to hide dirty money

More than 36,000 real estate properties are being held by hidden companies registered in offshore havens, according to a new report.

The report, Corruption on your Doorstep: How corrupt capital is used to buy property in the UK, which was published by Transparency International this week, found that 75 per cent of London properties whose owners are under investigation for corruption made use of offshore secrecy to hide their identities.

“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.”

The report also found that more than £180-million worth of property in UK have been brought under criminal investigation as the suspected proceeds of corruption since 2004.

The average price of a property under criminal investigation in the UK is £1.5 million. The minimum is £130,000, the maximum is £9 million and the median is £910,000. Nearly half (48 per cent) of properties investigated were valued at over £1 million.

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