Press release 09th Aug 2017

One in Five homes in new Kensington and Chelsea housing development bought through anonymous companies

Dominic Kavakeb 
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9th August 2017, London – Over a third of properties sold in a new Kensington and Chelsea development were purchased via anonymous companies or by buyers from states considered to be a high corruption risk, according to a new investigation by Transparency International UK, exclusively featured on Channel 4 News this evening.

An analysis of Land Registry data for 153 new homes in one development at 375 Kensington High Street found that more properties could be identified as being bought through companies based in the British Virgin Islands (19) – a known secrecy haven – than any other jurisdiction, including the United Kingdom (14).

Transparency International applied the same methodology as its recent “Faulty Towers” report to 375 Kensington High Street – part of the same Warwick Road regeneration masterplan where survivors of the Grenfell disaster are set to be housed.

Despite forty-five per cent of the analysed land titles failing to reveal any country of residence for buyers, where residents’ information was available it overwhelmingly shows that new homes have been purchased by overseas customers, and very often through mechanisms that allow for anonymity.

Rachel Davies Teka, Head of Advocacy Transparency International UK, said:

“The harrowing scenes at Grenfell Tower prompted many questions about how citizens in that borough are treated and focused attention on the issue of housing in Kensington and Chelsea. Our previous research has already found that this borough, and neighbouring Westminster, to have the highest levels of anonymously owned property.”

“When property is purchased anonymously there is a heightened risk that it was bought using the proceeds of illicit activity, including corruption. This matters because it could mean that corrupt officials who are stealing vital resources from their people are able to hide that stolen wealth in the UK property market. This facilitates the devastating effects of corruption in the countries where money has been stolen from as well as in the UK, where ordinary people struggle to gain access to housing.”

“The UK Government has consistently made all the right noises about doing something about this problem, but has so far failed to translate those words into legislative action. The most important thing the Government can do is to introduce a register that reveals the true owners of overseas companies purchasing UK property. The Government promised to bring this into law by April 2018, but there are serious concerns that this will now be kicked into the long grass. The Government must urgently clarify whether it intends to be part of the problem or the solution to the UK’s role as a safe haven for corrupt money.”

Key findings on purchases of 153 properties at 375 Kensington High Street:

  • 20% purchased via anonymous companies
  • 36% purchased via either anonymous companies or high corruption risk states
  • More purchased via British Virgin Islands companies than any other jurisdiction
  • Less than 10% purchased by buyers identified as UK based
  • No country of residency data available for 45% of those purchasing homes

Previous Transparency International research on Kensington and Chelsea found

  • More than 7% of land titles owned by anonymous companies
  • £1.7 billion worth of property bought with potentially illicit wealth



  • Transparency International UK is making no allegations of complicity in corruption or money laundering concerning those involved in buying or selling property at 375 Kensington High Street

Dominic Kavakeb
020 3096 7695
079 6456 0340