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PM to tackle ‘dirty money’ in UK property market

David Cameron MP imageThe Prime Minister used a speech in Singapore last week to acknowledge that some homes in the UK have been acquired using “plundered and laundered cash”, but vowed to do more to clampdown on the practice by publishing information on property owned by foreign firms.

Cameron (right) said, “My message to fraudsters is: ‘London is not the place to stash your dirty cash.”

Official figures show that over 100,000 property titles are registered to overseas companies, with more than 36,000 properties in London owned by offshore firms. In total, in excess of £120 billion of property in England and Wales is owned by offshore companies.

“I want Britain to be the most open country in the world for investment. But I want to ensure that all this money is clean money,” the Prime Minister added. “There is no place for dirty money in Britain. Indeed, there should be no place for dirty money anywhere.”

Any estate agent found to be involved in money laundering within the UK property market will not be tolerated by any professional body for agents, including the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA).

Mark Hayward NAEA imageCommenting on last week’s announcement from David Cameron, Mark Hayward (left), Managing Director, NAEA, said, “We agree with the Prime Minister that our property market should never be a place that facilitates corruption of any kind. All agents should report any activities of such nature to HMRC or the National Crime Agency, and failure to notify them, or to allow money laundering activities to knowingly take place, is a criminal act.”

Hayward insisted that all the NAEA operate a range of sanctions to combat any breach of the professional standards that the NAEA has put in place, and as a consequence of the recent From Russia with Cash documentary, the organisation is now working closely with HMRC and the NCA in order to educate all of their members on the subject of money laundering, “in order to fight against any such abuses in the UK property market”.

Trevor Abrahmsohn Glentree EstatesBut Trevor Abrahmsohn (right), Director of Glentree Estates, is not convinced that “cleansing of the so-called ‘dirty money’ antics” is necessary.

Having spent over 40 years selling homes in the capital to some of the world’s wealthiest people, Abrahmsohn insisted that it would be “a travesty to assume that most people behind foreign companies are suspect and derive their money from dubious sources.”

The August issue of PROPERTYdrum, magazine, published this week, includes a definitive article on money laundering and the estate agent’s responsibilities – important reading for all estate agents.

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