A London of Russian oligarchs says goodbye to it all
Londongrad is collapsing.
The UK has put pressure on wealthy Russians with measures targeting the upper end of a London property market already rocked by Moscow’s brutal invasion and plummeting stocks, the Wall Street Journal reported. It has frozen assets linked to oligarchs who own London mansions and some lawmakers are calling on the government to seize and sell those homes.
That’s not all: He ended a visa scheme that offered wealthy foreigners a fast path to citizenship and introduced rules that make it harder for property buyers to remain anonymous, a feature that had made London attractive .
An even bigger risk to London’s high-end property market is the widespread aversion to Russian money. If banks, brokers or vendors stop dealing with the Russians, this could further stem the flow.
London’s high-end property market has soared for two decades as the world’s ultra-rich poured money into safe bets in a stable country. Russians have become a symbol of the global rush for wealth in the city. Prices jumped and brokerages filled their offices with Russian speakers.
A mansion near Kensington Palace, on land leased from the monarchy, sold to an oligarch for $140 million. New estates bought by wealthy Russians built by Victorian aristocracy and industrialists added elegant glass walls and underground swimming pools.
Transparency International, an advocacy group founded by former World Bank officials, says suspicious sources have invested around $9 billion in UK properties since 2016, $2 billion of which came from people linked to Putin’s regime. or other corrupt actors.
Estate agents have become accustomed to cashing in multi-million dollar home purchases by wives, children and associates through shell companies in Cyprus and the British Virgin Islands. More than 2,000 wealthy Russians have entered the country since 2008.
The new sanctions will make the sale of such properties almost impossible for the time being. Even managing properties will be difficult, as asset freezes that prevent sales also prevent servicing them. This means hiring an emergency plumber to repair a leaky pipe now includes obtaining a license from the UK sanctions office.
[Wall Street Journal] – Dana Barthelemy