Global Witness this week told us about the levels of properties owned by secret property companies registered in tax havens throughout the UK and guess where the centre of it all is? Yes right in the heart of London, the City of Westminster, with over 10,000 properties out of the 85,000 in the whole country. Private Eye did a similar exercise for us a few years back when the levels were at much the same levels.
For a residential housing market to operate well, we need perfect information in that market. We certainly do not have this in City of Westminster as with this level of concentrated secret property ownership we certainly have all the adverse impacts like properties lying empty for years. All ultimately acting to price locals out of the housing market.
The recent Sunday night BBC drama McMafia is raising awareness of corruption and global crime allegedly amongst the Russian oligarchs based in London, with officials threatening to use the “full force of government” to be brought to bear on foreign criminals and corrupt politicians who use Britain as a haven. Officials will use new unexplained wealth orders (UWOs) – which came into effect this week – to seize suspicious assets and hold until they have been properly accounted for. Lets see what actually gets done.
Funnily enough the last CEO of Westminster City Council left to take up role as CEO & Head of Civil Service for British Crown Dependency of the State of Jersey. Now normally the leaving of CEO from a local authority does not arouse any eye brows but if one is going from the City of Westminster to the States of Jersey, when the City of Westminster has the biggest concentration of properties owned by off-shore companies registered in places like the British Crown Dependencies, it just may do so.