Cameron to warn of money laundering through Britain property in Singapore speech

David Cameron (right) shakes hands with ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh during their meeting at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta on July 27, 2015.
David Cameron (right) shakes hands with ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh during their meeting at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta on July 27, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - British Prime Minister David Cameron is to speak out against "corrupt money from around the world" being laundered through property in Britain in a speech to be made during a trip to South-east Asia on Tuesday.

The Conservative Party leader is to announce a consultation on increasing transparency on property ownership, amid concerns from campaigners that rising property prices in Britain are fuelled by corrupt cash.

Cameron is to highlight concerns that British properties, particularly in London, "are being bought by people overseas through anonymous shell companies, some with plundered or laundered cash", according to released excerpts of a speech he is to give in Singapore.

"The UK must not become a safe haven for corrupt money from around the world," Cameron is to say.

"I want Britain to be the most open country in the world for investment. But I want to ensure that all this money is clean money."

Britain's Land Registry is to begin publishing information on property owned by foreign companies for the first time this autumn.

The government will also open a consultation on how to increase transparency in property ownership by foreign businesses.

The prime minister is to praise efforts made in Singapore to tackle corruption, while arguing that all countries need to do more.

"There is no place for dirty money in Britain. Indeed, there should be no place for dirty money anywhere," Cameron will say.

Over 36,000 London properties are owned by offshore companies, while more than 100,000 property titles in Britain are registered to overseas firms.

Campaign group Transparency International welcomed the prime minister's commitment.

Nick Maxwell, the organisation's head of advocacy and research, said the steps towards increasing transparency outlined by Cameron "can help shift the UK from being a safe-haven for illicit wealth to a place where dirty money is not welcome".