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Homes in London's affluent areas bought with "dirty money" may be seized for affordable housing

In some of London's most exclusive postcodes, property acquired with "dirty money" might be confiscated and converted into affordable housing.

The Westminster city council is looking at using compulsory purchase orders to stop wealthy oligarchs from "rinsing their money" in some of London's wealthiest neighborhoods.

The council is making the efforts in an effort to shorten the 4,000-person waiting list for affordable housing and "combat the capital's reputation as the European centre for money laundering," according to The Guardian.

The proposals might, however, run into problems due to a lack of transparency in matters of land ownership and business registration. Since 2010, there have been 1,200% more properties in Westminster with links to Russians.

According to Transparency International UK, since 2016, Russians with connections to the Kremlin have bought property in Westminster for close to £430 million.

"Westminster’s dirty secret has been known for many years, but those in power looked the other way for too long as money of questionable origin flooded into London and investors took advantage of our relatively lax laws," said Adam Hug, head of the Westminster city council.

"It took the war in Ukraine to refocus attention on oligarch investments and what London has become in terms of a European laundromat for dirty money," he continued.

According to reports, the council is comparing its own tax data with a map of properties held by people living abroad, and it intends to target houses that it determines were bought with "dirty money."

According to the Financial Times, Westminster City Council also promised to address the "dirty money" connected to the opening of several "US-style candy stores" in the heart of London.

The council has urged the government to tighten loopholes that allow the use of tax havens in order to increase its efforts to combat illicit funding that was used to buy a number of commercial buildings in the West End.

The administration has already started looking into possible business rates evasion by 30 Oxford Street candy and souvenir stores.

The Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill will be presented to the House of Commons by UK Home Secretary Suelle Braverman today.

According to the order of business, the Bill includes measures on businesses, limited partnerships, and the registration of foreign organizations in addition to clauses against "economic crime and corporate transparency."

Transparency International UK expressed its satisfaction with the new government's decision to prioritize Britain's defenses against "dirty money" in a tweet, saying the Economic Crime Bill will do just that.

"For too long criminals have been able to abuse UK companies for the sole purpose of laundering the proceeds of crime and corruption… New powers for Companies House – expected to be included in the Bill – would help address many of the weaknesses in Britain’s company registration system," the group said.


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