Villains choose 'safe' London to launder their dirty money

In his decades as a fraud investigator at the City of London Police, David Clarke asked many dubious "businessmen" from unstable countries over the years why they chose to settle in London. The answer was always this: "It's safe."

While there are rare exceptions, shootings, kidnappings and physical intimidation of those from unstable countries are rare in the British capital. The Met may have its failings, but when compared to Ukraine, China or Mexico, the British police and security services ensure that the chances of getting bumped off outside the office by a rival are slim. But physical safety isn't everything, Mr Clarke argues. Britain's relaxed attitude to checks and monitors on those setting up businesses here is another big draw.

Bankers, estate agents and other professionals are supposed to file Suspicious Activity Reports on large, peculiar transactions from clients.

The mansion

Buy an expensive property. Central London's sky-high prices mean you can wash tens of millions of pounds at a time these days. If you need real income, you can live on the rent or, if you have the opposite problem and need to launder more cash, you can claim money is pouring in from fake tenants. In fact, of course, the "rent" is your own ill-gotten booty. A recent High Court case found a fraudster had paid £19m for a London house for which its previous occupant, a lucky lawyer, had paid less than half only a few years earlier. Little wonder central London prices are on the up. Again, estate agents are supposed to file Suspicious Activity Reports, but in reality this rarely happens. Some experts say money laundering is driving up house prices for everyone. Flats in Dubai are a popular alternative.

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