Britain is the bolthole for crooked money from all over the world

More than 87,000 properties in England and Wales, worth £100bn in total, are owned by anonymous companies registered in tax havens.  (The Week, 23 March 2019)

If you think this is sleazy, wait until Britain is out of the EU.  Given the main cheerleaders of Brexit one has to conclude that one motivation of the better- off Brexiteers is to build on the UK’s reputation as a the money laundering centre of the world, attracting the most disagreeable people.   It is up there already.  In the part of London I know best a big proportion of properties are owned by (corrupt?) foreigners, Russians being prominent.  Ordinary British people can’t, of course, afford these homes, whose values have sky- rocketed, leaving rows of usually empty houses owned from abroad.  Meanwhile,  the  building of new homes used to be the task of local councils, but successive governments have reduced their powers and their financial resources.  Homelessness continues upwards.

One of the few possibly positive  outcomes of Brexit, I thought ( in more charitable moments) was that, once a large contingent of ordinary working immigrants had left the country, the homelessness and affordability problem would improve.  Maybe it will, but then there will be no one to do painting, carpentry, plumbing or electrics.

Epicureanism is based upon pleasure in life, not just for the out-touch super- rich, but for everyone.  A secure roof over your head and the financial ability to pay for its upkeep is a core principle of Epicurean decency. The rich people who agitated for Brexit will always be able to afford pleasant, well-kept homes.  Others, alas , will not.

One Comment

  1. London has long been seen as a haven for dirty Russian money – money stolen from state budgets; money linked to Russian mafias. Now, however, we’re cracking down on it – or so the Government tells us. Really? Peel away the rhetoric and all the crackdown amounts to is checking visa applications, inspecting private jets and using “wealth orders” to unearth how oligarchs got the money to buy up London’s swankiest houses – things you’d think we would be doing anyway.

    The reason we’re not doing more, protests security minister Ben Wallace, is that our European partners are holding us back. Rubbish. Spain is trying 18 Russians for money laundering and France has just prosecuted an oligarch for crimes linked to tax evasion. But over here, the overriding concern remains to retain business ties with Moscow. Hence a key reform – to subject limited partnerships (the corporate form favoured by Russian crooks) to the money-laundering checks imposed on other private-sector companies – has been nixed by the Government. The Kremlin’s “kleptocratic cash” is flooding in and ministers are doing “almost nothing about it”. (The Week 6 Oct 2018, and Oliver Bullough, The Observer)

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