The head of research at lettings portal Lettingweb.com says the National Crime Agency’s claims about hundreds of billions of pounds of cash being laundered through property do not stand up to analysis.
Dan Cookson, head of research at Lettingweb, says mainstream media reports about the NCA’s investigations into London money laundering have been quoting the police body as saying “hundreds of billions of pounds are laundered in the city every year.”
However he says this may relate to all money laundered - possibly not just through property and not just through London.
“This certainly isn’t made clear or explained in any of the coverage. That’s why I flagged the HMRC figures showing the total London residential market being £79 billion - that is, a lot less than hundreds of billions” he says.
Cookson points to the HMRC figures as showing the 2014 London transactions total being £79.373 billion; in 2013 the total was less, at £69.288 billion.
He also says that in a recent NCA report on serious and organised crime there is a statement that “the total amount of money laundered into and through the UK is unknown”.
Elsewhere in the same report the NCA states: “Purchasing property as a method of money laundering provides the criminal with the opportunity to clean large amounts of illicit funds in a single transaction. It is likely that a significant proportion of criminals purchase property through estate agents to launder the proceeds of crime; where a criminal group owns or controls an agency, criminal cash can be mixed with rental income and disguised as legitimate profits.”
Cookson concludes: “It seems it will be quite hard to accurately assess actual scale of money laundering within property industry.”
The issue has been under the spotlight in recent weeks since the transmission of the Channel 4 TV documentary From Russia With Cash, looking at property transactions in prime central London.