A corruption report has highlighted Jersey’s role in helping criminals launder money by buying up expensive property in London.
The report by Transparency International – a non-governmental organisation with 100 branches around the world – has called for transparency about who owns the companies that own so much high-value London property.
They say that corrupt capital stolen around the world is being laundered by people who use anonymous companies to buy up property in the capital.
Using data from the Metropolitan Police and the Land Registry, Transparency International has found that almost 6,000 properties in the capital are owned by Jersey-incorporated companies.
They say that 14% of the foreign companies owning property in London are owned by Jersey incorporated companies. That makes up a significant chunk of the 40,725 London property titles held by foreign companies – 89% of which are held by what TI calls “secrecy jurisdictions”, covering 2.25 square miles of London property.
The report also says that 49% of all companies and trusts that hold property under investigation for grand corruption in the UK are incorporated in Jersey – and they have praised Jersey for their work on a company ownership register system to make it clear precisely who owns what.
The report says: “While the BVI is the most common jurisdiction for incorporating companies that own property in London, it is the third most common jurisdiction for initial incorporation for companies that hold titles for property under criminal investigation, featuring below Jersey and the Isle of Man.
“This discrepancy may be attributable to closer co-operation between Jersey and the Isle of Man with the Metropolitan Police, relative to the BVI, and therefore conclusions are difficult to draw from the data alone.
“Jersey is the only Crown Dependency to hold a central register of beneficial owners of companies incorporated in the jurisdiction. Jersey has also agreed to voluntarily adopt the forthcoming Fourth EU Anti Money Laundering Directive.
“The BVI does not hold a beneficial ownership register of companies, and at the time of the research, the result of its consultation on creating a register of the beneficial owners of companies had not yet been made public. As a result this discrepancy must be interpreted carefully and the drivers of the difference require further research.”
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