This is an interesting article from the FT on the impact of money laundering on the UK property market, what steps are being taken to address the issue and how successful they are likely to be.
As always the real challenge lies in enabling those who have valid reasons for owning UK property in off-shore companies and trusts (and there are many reasons aside from money laundering why this might be an attractive option) to have the freedom to continue operating and holding property in the UK whilst at the same time stamping down on those people who are acting illegally.
Many professionals, including solicitors, are subject to strict legal requirements in relation to money laundering and indeed can themselves be found guilty of a criminal offence if they are aware or suspect their clients may be laundering money and fail to report their suspicions. Whilst the obligations may seem onerous if they were applied to more people involved in the property industry it would at least address the current concern that some people seem to be prepared to turn a blind-eye to potentially suspicious activity in order to see a deal though,
“Purchasing UK properties is one of the cheapest and easiest money-laundering techniques in the world — there are not many others where you actually make money on rising asset prices,” says David Buxton, chief executive of Arachnys, a due diligence platform.