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Due diligence for buying process must improve - Propertymark

Propertymark has spoken out over the Pandora Papers leak scandal, which reveals many elite and super-rich buyers of properties in London apparently used a wide range of opaque tax avoidance schemes.

Some 600 journalists around the world have seen some of 11.9m leaked documents claiming to show the financial and tax arrangements of the super rich and political elite, as well as some celebrities and business chiefs.

Mark Hayward, chief policy advisor at Propertymark, says: “The scandals highlighted in this leak show property is a high-risk sector for laundering money, with the true identity of owners often hidden through the use of overseas shell companies.

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“Criminal funds can be concealed and made to look legitimate through an untraceable offshore ‘company’ and subsequently the purchasing of UK property.

“Furthermore, houses bought with laundered money often sit empty, taking much-needed homes out of the market and negatively impacting the wider community.

“Propertymark has long called for a public register of overseas beneficial owners and has worked with the UK Government on what this should look like as well as wider reforms to the Money Laundering Regulations.

“Despite repeated promises, including being mentioned in the December 2019 Queen’s Speech, the UK government has failed to introduce a register to deal with this.

“The revelations over the practices of a number of high-profile global figures within the papers is of serious concern. The UK government must stop sitting on its hands and act now.”

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