UK to unmask owners of expensive houses bought via offshores

UK to unmask owners of expensive houses bought via offshores

The names of oligarchs, officials and politicians who are hiding their London mansions will appear on the real estate registry.

The British authorities decided to create the world's first public register of high-value real estate. The ultimate owners, who usually hide behind anonymous shell companies, will have to reveal their names. According to The Times, Britain presented the anti-corruption measures yesterday. This will allow tracking the flow of illegally obtained capital and combating money laundering.

The real estate registry will feature names of oligarchs, officials and politicians who bought property in London, where opaque purchase transactions are possible.

According to analysts, most of the expensive real estate is concentrated in London’s prestigious areas: Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea. 11 out of 14 new mansions in the UK capital were reportedly purchased by foreign investors, and 5 of them were acquired with dubious or undisclosed funds.

Experts say that foreign companies own about 122 billion pound worth of property in England and Wales. Many of these shell companies are based in British Virgin Islands, where the ultimate owners are impossible to establish.

After the Brexit referendum, the London real estate demand among foreign buyers has grown by 21%. Many hoped that it was Brussels that dictated the policy for a more open approach to real estate transactions, and that Brexit was supposed to put an end to this.

However, London new Mayor Sadik Khan promised to step up the fight against dubious investments in British real estate.

Russian oligarchs and their families have traditionally been the clients of British realtors. According to Knight Frank realtor agency, Russian or Russian-speaking clients make up one fifth of all London real estate market worth over five million pounds.

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