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Clampdown on money laundering via property ramps up in London

The owners of three more properties bought for £80m in central London must now explain where their money came from or face having them confiscated.

Nigel Lewis

money laundering

The National Crime Agency (NCA) has intensified its clamp-down on money laundering within the London property market and asked the owners of three more properties in the capital to explain where their wealth comes from.

Each of the properties are said by the NCA to be linked to ‘politically exposed persons’ or PEPs and the agency has now obtained Unexplained Wealth Orders from the High Court.

The properties, which are said to have been bought for £80 million in total, are in prime central London and were bought via offshore companies.

“The individuals behind these offshore companies now have to explain how the three properties were obtained,” says Andy Lewis, Head of Asset Denial at the NCA.

Money laundering

The case highlights several of the ‘red flags’ that the Home Office has been asking estate agents to watch out for when dealing with buyers under its Anti-Money Laundering rules including PEPs and purchases involving offshore companies.

The NCA has also obtained ‘freezing orders’ to prevent the properties being sold.

“The purchase of prime property in London is a tactic used to launder money and we will use all the powers available to us to target those who try to do this,” says Graeme Biggar (left), Director General of the National Economic Crime Centre.

The announcement by the NCA coincides with details of its first Unexplained Wealth Order against jailed Azerbaijani banker Jahangir Hajiyev and his wife Zamira who live in Knightsbridge (pictured, above).

She is the woman recently unmasked as having spent over £16 million alone at Harrods over the past ten years including nearly £800,000 during one visit to its toy department.

Read more about money laundering.

May 30, 2019

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