David Cameron will give a speech later today in Singapore stating that foreigners must be stopped from buying UK homes with “plundered or laundered cash” and a “global effort” must be launched to defeat corruption.
Mr Cameron is on a four-day tour of South East Asia, in which he will also visit Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam. Today he will vow to expose the use of “anonymous shell companies” to buy luxury UK properties more apparent in London.
He believes that the UK must not become “a safe haven for corrupt money from around the world” and that the international community must tackle the “cancer of corruption”.
His visit has been accompanied by 31 British business leaders in an effort to drum up trade with the UK and has also discussed the ongoing battle against terrorism.
He describes corruption as “the enemy of progress” and he is calling for a “global effort” to tackle it.
A 2014 report by anti-poverty organisation One said an estimated $1tn (£600bn) a year was being taken out of poor countries because of corruption, warning the use of phantom firms and money laundering. Only last week the National Crime Agency said that foreign criminals were pushing up house prices in the UK by laundering billions of pounds through the purchase of expensive properties in the capital.
Mr Cameron will discuss how properties in the UK, predominantly in London, “are being bought by people overseas through anonymous shell companies, some with plundered or laundered cash”.
- Shell companies are non-trading companies that serve a particular purpose for their owners.
- More than 100,000 UK property titles are registered to overseas companies, with more than 36,000 properties in London owned by offshore firms.
- About £122bn of property in England and Wales is owned by offshore companies.
The government is said to publish Land Registry data this year, showing which foreign companies own land and property throughout England and Wales. They will also consider imposing a foreign company bidding for a government contract to “publicly state who really owns it”.
Mr Cameron will reiterate that “There is no place for dirty money in Britain. Indeed, there should be no place for dirty money anywhere”.