More than 87,000 properties owned by anonymous companies

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Global Witness’ analysis reveals that firms registered in tax havens secretly hold over £100bn worth of property  

A new report by the transparency group Global Witness suggests that over 87,000 properties in England and Wales are owned by anonymous companies who are enrolled in tax havens. 

Within the analysis, it revealed that 40% of these properties are based in London. With a collective estimate of £350m in property value, Buckingham Palace Road is an area in which many of these anonymously owned properties are found. Cadogan Square in Knightsbridge is where at least 134 of these other properties are also secretly held. 

It has been found that 10,000 of these anonymously owned properties are also in Westminster, alongside 6,000 in Chelsea and Kensington, 2,300 in Camden and 2,000 in Tower Hamlets.  

Parliament’s joint select committee will discuss the impact of anonymous companies and their property ownership. 

At the government’s anti-corruption summit in 2016, MPs were discussing the importance of introducing a register of UK property owners; however, progression has been slow on achieving this. 

Senior anti-corruption campaigner at Global Witness, Ava Lee stated, “It’s increasingly clear that UK property is one of the favourite tools of the criminal and corrupt for stashing and laundering stolen cash. This analysis reveals the alarming scale of the UK’s secret property scandal.”  

Historical Land Registry data revealed that the combined value of the properties had been a minimum of £56bn. However, they suggested that once inflation is also considered, the figure will rise to over £100bn. 

In their investigation, Global Witness has commented on how corrupt Politian’s and criminals clean or hide dirty cash in these UK properties to ensure financial protection for their families and themselves. 

The mystery owner of a £147m London property empire was revealed in 2015 and could have been linked to a former Kazakh secret police chief who had previously been accused of money-laundering, torture and murder.  

 Navkiran Bains 

  

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