UK: Money laundering haven
5 March 2015
Scotland Yard revealed that it was investigating 144 properties held in secretive offshore companies. Half of these properties were registered to companies in Jersey, which does not automatically declare the identity of the beneficial owner. Investigators suspect that funding for these properties came from proceeds of international corruption. These properties have an estimated value of £ 180 million.
The scale of the problem came to light when anti-corruption think tank Transparency International (TI) UK said that he UK has become “a safe haven for corrupt capital stolen from around the world.”
While tax evasion and corruption are most common source of these funds, but drug trafficking, human trafficking and black-marketeering cannot be ruled out.
In London roughly 36,342 properties were purchased through clandestine front companies in offshore tax havens. Most of them are registered in British Virgin Islands, the Isle of Man and Jersey.
TI UK says that authorities’ response to the continued influx of ill-gotten gains is inadequate.
Financial institutions are required to submit Suspicious Activity Reports (SRAs) when they suspect a financial activity. But they do not want to antagonize their clients and hence this SRA gets never submitted.
James Ibori, the former governor of Delta state in Nigeria, who was jailed in 2012 on money-laundering and corruption charges, owns a mansion in Hampstead worth £ 2.2 million. Read here the article on his trial. (Nigeria: Ex-governor of Delta State pleads guilty in London to financial crimes)
Saif Gadaffi, the son of former Libyan dictator Muammar Gadaffi, owned a £10m home in the same area through a BVI company.