a year on and the effect of the Panama Papers continues to reverberate.
Today the leaks claimed another political scalp: Pakistan’s Supreme Court has removed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from office. The leaks showed how Sharif and his children were linked to prestigious Park Lane apartments through a complex web of anonymously owned British Virgin Island (BVI) companies.
The Sharif family have denied any wrongdoing. And currently, there is nothing at all illegal about owning UK properties through anonymous companies either in Pakistan or in the UK.
And that is precisely the problem.
Our investigations have shown time and again how easy it is for the criminal and corrupt to launder money through luxury property, hiding the real owners behind anonymous companies, often registered in secrecy jurisdictions like the BVI and hidden behind “nominee” directors.
We urgently need to close this loophole. And until recently, we thought the UK was making progress.
But two years after David Cameron promised to bring transparency to the UK property market and just one year after the furore of the Panama Papers and the commitments made at the International Anti-Corruption Summit, we are no closer to stopping the corrupt from investing their ill-gotten gains in UK properties.
The decision rests with the Prime Minister and her Cabinet. Are they happy to see criminal proceeds stashed in UK properties? Is this the kind of global Britain we’ll be after Brexit?
If not, they need make good on their promise to clean up the UK property market and show the world that ‘there is no home for the corrupt in Britain’ by putting legislation before Parliament as soon as possible.