When the Ukraine crisis started The Times carried an editorial saying that “the squeals from Kensington’s estate agents will be audible in Moscow”. Not so, says a feature in Sunday’s Financial Times, which claims that both Ukrainian and Russian oligarchs are now heading over to London with suitcases full of cash looking for a safe haven.
The FT quotes JLL residential research’s estimates that Russian capital flight will quadruple year-on-year, and Savills’ estimates that the £180m that Russians spent on London property in 2013 will rise sharply in 2014. Wealthy Russians who have been considering buying in London appear to be speeding up those processes (no bad thing also, when rapidly rising prices are leading to sellers taking higher offers after initially agreeing a price, in a process known as ‘gazumping‘ – a particular and scandalous feature of the British property market).
However, they are doing so via an offshore company rather than as a private individual – where the purchase would be registered on the publicly available Land Registry – to preserve their anonymity and protect against assets being frozen due to sanctions. To avoid this secrecy, the UK government has announced a new public …read more