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Sadiq Khan Calls On Government To Seize London Property Owned By Russian Oligarchs

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan calling for Putin allies to have their London property seized.

3 min read

The Mayor of London is calling for the cronies of President Putin to have their London properties seized by the UK government.

Sadiq Khan wants their assets taken as he claims oligarchs close to Putin are using the capital as a “safe harbour … to park their cash”.

The Labour mayor is also demanding the introduction of an ‘overseas buyers levy’ that could raise £370 million a year and go towards new council and affordable homes.

Khan claims this could protect the London housing market from exploitation by the Russian President's supporters long-term.

Transparency International estimate that £1.1 billion worth of London property is owned by Russians accused of corruption or links to the Kremlin.

“For far too long ministers have turned a blind eye to the use of our capital’s homes as a safe harbour for oligarchs to park their cash, which is having a negative impact on both our international reputation and our local housing market. Now is the time to act,” Khan said.

“London will always be open to foreign investment and the millions of people from around the world who choose to make our city home.

“But we must take proactive measures to insist on a greater contribution from overseas buyers, clamp down on those who look to exploit our openness, and use the money to invest in social and other low-cost homes for Londoners.”

Khan believes the UK has a light-touch form of property regulation which means London has become a magnet for foreign millionaires and billionaires wishing to hide their assets. To combat this, the UK government should move to introduce legislative changes to existing property law as a matter of urgency, he believes.

One area where there is a lack of transparency is in the legal and beneficial ownership of companies and properties, he said, which could make tax evasion and money laundering easier. The current regulations also mean those hiding the assets of those who would come under any possible sanctions regime, is possible.

Other measures Khan wants to see is a register of overseas ownership, as well as raising the amount overseas owners have to pay for leaving their home empty by increasing the council tax ‘empty homes premium’.

Raising capital gains tax on overseas buyers from 28% to 40% and increasing the taxes paid by overseas companies investing in property by increasing the Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings, should also be considered.

These new policies would only apply to property owners who are resident overseas, not those who move to London and make the capital their home, and an already established residency test, such as that introduced as part of the existing stamp duty surcharge on overseas buyers, could be used as the basis for these measures.

City Hall analysis shows these measures, if properly implemented, could raise up to £370m a year, which could go on 2500 low-cost homes if there is a public grant subsidy level of £150,000 per home.

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