We have all seen or heard about the empty mansions in the finer parts of the UK, but the latest analysis by Global Witness reveals that over 87,000 properties in England and Wales are owned by anonymous companies registered in tax havens.
The value of these properties is at least £56 billion according to Land Registry data – and it is likely to be in excess of £100 billion when accounting for inflation and missing price data.
Giving evidence to a parliamentary committee earlier this week, Ava Lee, Senior Anti-Corruption Campaigner at Global Witness said that, “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.
“There’s some good news. Tomorrow, Parliament is reviewing a draft law that could force these secret owners out of the shadows. We’re calling on the Government to table this legislation as quickly as possible, so we can find out who really owns so much of the UK.”
40 per cent of the anonymously owned properties identified are in London. Cadogan Square in Knightsbridge, where the average property costs £3 million, hosts at least 134 secretly owned properties. Buckingham Palace Road is also home to a large number, with an estimated value of £350 million.
As of March 2019, the areas with the highest number of anonymously owned properties are:
- 10,000 in Westminster, right on the government’s doorstep;
- 5,729 in Kensington and Chelsea;
- 2,320 in Camden; and
- 1,930 in Tower Hamlets.