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Government to tackle ‘dirty money’ in UK property

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Prime Minister David Cameron announced a new crackdown on Tuesday on foreigners and offshore companies that own property in the UK to launder ‘dirty money’ by publishing their names. In a speech in Singapore, Cameron said the UK should no longer be a ‘safe haven for corrupt money’. A consultation will be launched in due course.

Richard Jordan, tax partner at law firm Thomas Eggar, said: ‘Every time a property changes hands in London, even when owned by a company, lawyers will be involved. The KYC and source of funds checks carried out by reputable firms should ensure that the proceeds of crime (which include tax evasion) do not find their way into the housing market. Today’s announcement is an acknowledgement that regulation only goes so far and that a minority will inevitably find lawyers to act who do not ask the right questions. Publishing the details of the holding companies does not in itself achieve very much. I suspect it is part of a wider HMRC project aimed at getting to grips with the data readily available at HM Land Registry which shows which UK property is owned by a foreign company. HMRC knows that more often than not this will lead to the recovery of some tax due to poor advice or ignorance of the new tax laws by the owners.’