Reducing economic crime in the property sector

Purchasing property in the UK is a common method that can be used by serious organised criminals to launder the proceeds of criminal activity. This position paper includes recommendations that the UK Government should include in future legislation as well as other plans and reforms to reduce economic crime.

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Scale of economic crime

According to the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee, economic crime is estimated to run into tens of billions of pounds, potentially hundreds of billions, and is rapidly growing.

Given that property is such an attractive target, property is involved in a large percentage of this crime, which costs the UK Government an estimated £37 billion every year.

Impact of money laundering

The sales and lettings sectors, property auctioneers and high value dealers are all attractive targets for those looking to launder money. Both small and large agencies are susceptible to criminal activity.

The London property market and the wider UK housing market are highly attractive options and are both affected by financial crime. While the property sector remains largely unregulated, and without minimum standards to operate, the industry is vulnerable to attack.

Property bought with laundered money often sit empty, taking homes away from the market that could be used for families and having a further negative impact on the wider community. To maintain integrity in our housing market it is vital to know who the ultimate owner of a property is.

Download our position paper