Westminster Council will come down hard on its so-called ‘dirty money’ problem, zeroing in on US-style candy stores in Oxford Street.
A motion will be passed this evening as 30 confectionary shops are under investigation for business rates evasion totalling £3m.
The council leader said the war in Ukraine highlighted Russian oligarch investment in Westminster, and the use of convoluted financial arrangements to avoid detection from tax evasion.
It added there has been a 300 per cent rise in the number of properties registered to owners in Jersey since 2010, and 1,200 per cent increase in firms linked to Russia.
The local authority claimed the spike in investment in the area shows “property is being used to launder money of questionable origin”, as it called on the UK to clamp down on evasion.
Tonight, local politicians are set to pass a motion to sign the Fair Tax Pledge, approving measures to bring Westminster in line with other big firms and public sector bodies on transparency.
The motion will “tackle the scourge of economic crime and international corruption”, with council leader Adam Hugg also set to convene a meeting of property owners against “dirty money.”
Among new measure sit will vote for includes to sure fair payment of tax, business rates and employment tax, not through offshore vehicles. It will almost implement more stringent checks to ensure suppliers are not avoiding tax with not-for-profit measures.
Hug said: “Westminster’s dirty secret has been known for many years but those in power looked the other way for too long.
Saying people “took advantage of our relatively lax laws”, Hugg added that “it took the war in Ukraine to refocus attention on oligarch investments and what London has become in terms of a European laundromat for dirty money.”
Claiming that “Putin and his henchman.. see Belgravia, Knightsbridge, Mayfair and other parts of Westminster as places to rinse their money.”, he called on the government to implement stronger nationwide laws.
“Companies House does not have the powers or resources to address those who set up opaque shell companies to launder and export money from London.”
“There are more background checks required to get a local authority lending card then to set up a company in the UK.
HMRC has been approached for comment.