Channel 4 doc behind PM’s laundering crackdown
The documentary, which aired on July 8, featured an undercover reporter posing as a Russian government minister with money to launder on London property.
In Singapore earlier today Cameron said properties in the UK – and London in particular – “are being bought by people overseas through anonymous shell companies, some with plundered or laundered cash”.
He added: “There is no place for dirty money in Britain. Indeed, there should no place for dirty money anywhere.”
Boulger said: “I suspect the timing wasn’t unrelated with the programme which isn’t very impressive from the authorities if the media caught onto this first.
“If you want to launder then buying a high value London property for cash so you’ve got an asset you can sell is one of the best ways of doing it.
“You wonder to what extent this has pushed London prices up.”
Boulger questioned Cameron’s comments on foreign buyers; stressing that there are both British and foreign money launders using property as a safe haven.
Bribery laws are especially tight in the UK, but potential cash buyers could be involved in other criminal activities like trafficking or the drugs trade.
He added: “Why does he only want to stop foreigners from buying homes with laundered cash?
“Surely he should be trying to stop British people also buying with proceeds from criminal activity.”
Estate agents didn’t come off well in the documentary, as they didn’t accept the responsibility to make sure the buyers were fit and proper and they recommended solicitors who were happy to deal with clients looking to launder cash in London mansions.
Mark Hayward, managing director of the National Association of Estate Agents, insisted that its members abide by strict standards.
He said: “We do not tolerate the behaviour of any estate agents who are involved in money laundering within the UK property market, and agree with the Prime Minister that our property market should never be a place that facilitates corruption of any kind.
“All agents should report any activities of such nature to HMRC or the National Crime Agency, and failure to notify them, or to allow money laundering activities to knowingly take place, is a criminal act.
“Our members agree to abide by the professional standards that the NAEA has put in place, and we operate a range of sanctions to combat any breach of these strict standards.
“As a result of the recent From Russia with Cash documentary we are working closely with HMRC and the NCA in order to educate all of our members on the subject of money laundering, in order to fight against any such abuses in the UK property market.”
From Russia with Cash is still available to watch on Channel 4’s website.