The Prime Minister has just given a speech promising to clamp down on foreign criminals laundering their money by buying property in the UK, much of which is in London. Last week the National Crime Agency had warned the multi-billion pound practice was pushing up house prices in the UK.
I went onto BBC London this past weekend to call on the Prime Minister and the Mayor to address the problem.
This is having an impact on all of us. There is a knock-on effect for ordinary Londoners, who are dealing with inflating rents and rising house prices. Already there is an overheated housing market, and this is exacerbating the situation. It has got to be stamped out.
In the past we’ve raised concerns about money laundering only to be brushed off by the Mayor. When my Labour colleague Murad Qureshi asked what actions he would take in response to a report by Transparency International, Corruption on Your Doorstep, which suggested that a flow of corrupt cash is driving up house prices in London, Boris curtly responded: “The report you mention did not state this. It asserted that it was ‘likely’ that that there was a link between ‘corrupt capital’, overseas investment and rising house prices but did not produce any evidence to suggest the nature and scale of any such relationship.”
I wonder if he’ll change his tune now that even the Prime Minister recognises there is a problem.
Publishing details of foreign companies investing in property is a good start but we also need to see increased efforts to identify and prosecute offenders as well as pressure put on estate agents to carry out more thorough checks when selling top-price homes.