Money worth 271 Buckingham Palaces laundered in the UK

Abigail Fenton
·2-min read
Buckingham Palace in London. Photo: Getty
Buckingham Palace in London. Photo: Getty

The amount of money launched in the UK in 2019 is enough to buy Buckingham Palace 271 times, according to a study.

The total amount of money laundered in the UK last year was a staggering £325bn ($426bn), Transparency International data shows.

Put into perspective, is 271 times more than the £1.18bn worth of Buckingham Palace is worth, or enough to buy the White House — valued at £319m — 1,018 times, analysis from SmartSearch found. The sum could also pay for the world's tallest building, Burj Khalifa, 217 times, or Wembley Stadium 271 times.

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By comparison, the total amount of money laundered in the US was a $300bn (£228m), most of which was a result of healthcare fraud, the research found. This is is enough to buy the Taj Mahal (£696m) 327 times, the Empire State Building (£1.4bn) 158 times, and the Emirates Palace (£760,000) 300 times.

Globally, about $2tn is laundered every year, with countries such as Mozambique and Loso at the most risk due to lack of regulations, according to the Basel anti-money laundering index.

The top 10 countries at risk of money laudering

  1. Mozambique

  2. Laso

  3. Myanmar

  4. Afghanistan

  5. Liberia

  6. Haiti

  7. Kenya

  8. Vietnam

  9. Benin

  10. Sierra Leone

The UK ranked 106th — the same position as in 2018 but with a slightly lower score of 4.13, compared with 4.23 previously. This demonstrates some improvement and suggests progress is being made in anti-money laundering regulations since the The Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision (OPBAS) was set up in January 2018.

However, money laundering could be set to rise in a post-Brexit Britain, SmartSearch warned.

“The government’s plan to create 10 ‘freeports’ is certainly a risk. These freeports are areas inside the UK that are legally considered outside the country for customs purposes, so that goods brought in through these do not face import tariffs. While these are being created in a bid to boost trade, attract inward investment and increase productivity, they have the potential to set the UK’s anti-money laundering efforts back and put us at greater risk of becoming the money laundering capital of the world,” said CEO John Dobson.

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He added: “Not only can money laundering affect individual organisations, its impact can be damaging on the whole economy as people lose confidence and become more cautious with their money.

“It’s a real risk and can be hugely damaging when companies are caught out, so it’s vital business prioritise their anti-money laundering efforts, especially now as we navigate through such a turbulent business landscape.

“Globally, it’s important all countries are members of anti-money laundering organisations in order to implement the necessary laws to combat money laundering.”