UK to stop "dirty money" in London property market
Britain on Tuesday vowed to clampdown on the use of "dirty money" to buy up expensive properties, promising to expose the owners of anonymous foreign shell companies hiding cash in London's buoyant housing market.
Prime Minister David Cameron, speaking in Singapore on a regional trade visit, said the promise was part of anti-corruption efforts to ensure that Britain did not become a "safe haven for corrupt money from around the world".
"We know that some high-value properties - particularly in London - are being bought by people overseas through anonymous shell companies, some of them with plundered or laundered cash," Cameron said. "There is no place for dirty money in Britain."
Around 122 billion pounds of property in England and Wales is owned via offshore companies, he said, announcing that a central registry of land and properties owned by foreign firms would be set up in the coming months, giving details of who owns around 100,000 property titles.
"We need to stop corrupt officials or organised criminals using anonymous shell companies to invest their ill-gotten gains in London property, without being tracked down," he said.
Cameron also said the government was considering implementing rules to force foreign firms wishing to bid on government contracts to provide full details on their ownership structure.