Britain’s property market is about to go through a massive shake-up.
Foreign companies that own property in the UK will have to publicly state their assets as part of a plan to curb money laundering.
The government is creating a register for foreign firms to declare if they hold property, want to buy property or are seeking to tender for public contracts, Prime Minister David Cameron said in an article in the Guardian.
The move comes as Cameron prepares to host world leaders in London for a summit aimed at tackling global corruption and money laundering.
Public sector corruption siphons $1.5 trillion (£1 trillion) to $2 trillion annually from the global economy in bribes and costs far more in stunted economic growth, lost tax revenues and sustained poverty, the International Monetary Fund said.
David Little, head of money laundering at the National Crime Agency said earlier this year that money laundering in the City was a huge business.
“We don’t know what the true amount is but it’s in the tens or hundreds of billions. It’s a truly terrifying number,” he said.
The government said the register would mean “corrupt individuals and countries will no longer be able to move, launder and hide illicit funds through London’s property market, and will not benefit from our public funds.”
According to government figures, foreign companies own about 100,000 properties in England and Wales and with more than 44,000 in London.
“Corruption is the cancer at the heart of so many of our problems in the world today,” Cameron said. “It destroys jobs and holds back growth, costing the world economy billions of pounds every year.”