Thursday, Jul 09, 2015

Londongrad; From Russia With Cash

Guardian: London estate agents caught on camera dealing with 'corrupt' Russian buyer

"Top estate agents in Britain’s wealthiest postcodes are willing to turn a blind eye to apparent money laundering by corrupt foreign buyers, according to an investigation by Channel 4.
Despite being made aware they are dealing with ill-gotten gains, the estate agents agree to continue with a potential purchase. In several instances the estate agents recommend law firms to help a buyer hide his identity.
There has been increasing concern that billions of pounds of corruptly gained money has been laundered by criminals and foreign officials buying upmarket London properties through anonymous offshore front companies. Experts say the city is arguably the world capital of money laundering.

Posted by doomwatch @ 01:29 PM (6262 views)
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1. cyril said...

Given that corruption in Russia is endemic, I should think that all posh houses in London bought by Russians are bought with 'dirty' money. (Probably not just Russians either).
Funny how all these scams are unearthed by TV programmes not law enforcement agencies.

Thursday, July 9, 2015 03:21PM Report Comment

2. doomwatch said...

spot on cyril. I lived in London 10 years ago and this sort of thing was well known then, so one could conclude a very
blind eye has been in operation, especially amongst the various parties getting commission/fees across the transaction life cycle.

It's also worth noting that a lot of native individuals use off shore tax vehicles to "avoid" paying stamp duty etc, assisted
by expensive accountancy firms.

I would imagine a few landed types in Westminster wouldn't like those loop holes closing though, and tolerate others using it.

Thursday, July 9, 2015 05:28PM Report Comment

3. bidin'matime said...

Talk about looking in the wrong direction - for years we've had 'anti-money laundering' legislation that has tied the hands of every other profession. The fact that estate agents have never been regulated in any way has resulted in a 'profession' that is devoid of moral or ethical standards and, inevitably following on from that, up to its neck in criminal activity of various kinds.

I remember what it was like before financial services were regulated in any way (before 1986) - too many crooks in the business - I think after that they mostly moved into estate agency.

Thursday, July 9, 2015 09:21PM Report Comment

4. bidin'matime said...

Update - now watched the programme - truly shocking. Truly shocking. Sickening.

As 'Boris' (the undercover Russian) said - these people (the agents) bring their children up in this city - how can they behave like that?

Hopefully all London agents will watch it and think twice in future before advising crooked buyers how to set up offshore companies and trusts to spend their ill-gotten gains.

Petty criminals are pursued relentlessly with disproportionate amounts of public funds spent on bringing them to justice, while the true criminals (by which I'm including the agents) get away with it.

Thursday, July 9, 2015 10:48PM Report Comment

5. mombers said...

Luckily we now have ATED - annual tax on enveloped dwellings - that means if you want to hold yr property anonymously, you have to pay up to £218,200 for the privilege (
I did a freedom of information request to see how many people they had prosecuted for money laundering when paying these significant amounts of money and low and behold it is zero - they turn a blind eye. It is insane that someone pitching up with a cheque for £200k which, unlike income tax, corp tax, etc does not have an obvious source, doesn't get questioned.

Friday, July 10, 2015 09:33AM Report Comment

6. mark said...

London has been known as a money launderers haven and heaven for years, this is nothing new, governments choose to ignore it whilst hammering law abiding citizens with pathetic money laundering laws and insane levels of ID required

but a russian gangster with 100 million quid has the red carpet rolled out

Friday, July 10, 2015 10:16AM Report Comment

7. icarus said...

Transparency International (TI) says that estate agents, financial services firms, lawyers and art dealers are designated as “gatekeepers” who must file Suspicious Activity Reports to the National Crime Agency if they see anything suspicious. It says that last year just 0.05% of such reports were filed by estate agents.

Anti-corruption activists including Boris Nemtsov, the Russian opposition figure murdered in Moscow last March, have repeatedly expressed frustration that the UK does so little to stem the flow of money stolen (essentially from poorer people) from their countries. According to TI, estate agents in the UK, weirdly, need to check only the property seller, not the buyer, for possible money laundering. TI singles out the UK for its notoriously lax rules regarding the disclosure of property ownership.

Of course much of this gravitational pull of dirty money towards London was explained in Shaxson's 'Treasure Islands' book, where he wrote of "a London-centred web of half-British territories scattered around the world that would catch financial offering lightly taxed, lightly regulated and secretive bolt-holes for money. Criminal and other money could be handled by the City of London yet far enough from London to minimise any stink."

Friday, July 10, 2015 12:20PM Report Comment

8. killer bunny said...

God knows I hope there will be individual and corporate prosecutions for this.

Of course its yet another barn door closing after etc

Sunday, July 12, 2015 03:23PM Report Comment

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