Council leader: Seize homes from Russian oligarchs

Town Hall urged to make sure they are not working with any Putin allies

Friday, 4th March — By Richard Osley

Georgia Gould

Cllr Georgia Gould

CAMDEN’S council leader last night (Thursday) called for properties in the borough owned by Putin-linked oligarchs to be seized.

Labour councillor Georgia Gould also said she supported a new registry to show where money was flowing into London’s property market from.

Speaking at a scrutiny committee meeting, she admitted the Town Hall had no powers to confiscate homes but called on national government to step in.

Her comments follow a fierce national debate about how far oligarchs are being sanctioned in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine which has included Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, the MP for Holborn and St Pancras, demanding action against Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich – who this week swiftly put the west London football club up for sale.

“I think the problem – and what we want to target – is oligarchs who are linked to Putin and who are using buying property in London to kind of store assets and I think that’s what we should be taking on,” said Cllr Gould.

“In those cases, those assets should be seized. We don’t have the power to do that in Camden but I would call on national government to take action.”


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No names of individuals were mentioned at last night’s meeting, as Cllr Gould fielded questions on the issue from committee chair Douglas Beattie.

In Camden, Athlone House – the Heathside mansion being extensively restored – is owned by billionaire banker Mikhail Fridman. He held a press conference this week in which he called for the military action to be halted, although did not directly criticise Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Cllr Gould told the meeting: “There needs to be a wholesale change in the national approach to this. I think last week the Mayor of London called for a registry where money comes in to buy properties in London. I think the government has announced that they are going to do it.”

She added: “It’s late because not a lot is known about properties that are bought up. I think much more should be done to ensure that the properties are bought and lived in by people – wherever they come from in the world.”

The council was already applying the maximum tax bill for unused homes, she  added.

“Where it is questionable where the money has come from, they shouldn’t be able to buy assets in Camden, nor anywhere else in London,” Cllr Gould said.

“When people are owning assets that they’re not living in, I think we should have greater powers to tax those properties because effectively they’re driving up property prices for others. They’re using a home that people could be living in and when you see so many people wanting to buy a property, then you know those costs are astronomical for Camden residents.”

“Where we are ourselves the developer, obviously we have far more power. We would never market any properties abroad and the vast majority of the properties that we build that go private sales to fund council housing are bought by first time buyers and by residents in London.”

Cllr Douglas Beattie

Cllr Beattie called for Camden to make sure that it was not working with any developers or property companies linked to Putin allies.

“I think there was a report in The Times in the last seven days suggesting that some places in Camden – like Highgate, for instance – there is a lot of Russian money from oligarchs. I’m concerned. Is there anything we can do in terms of future developments in Camden to proof them against money from the Russian regime or indeed other regimes?

“Is that something that’s ever looked at when we partner with developers – where they get the funding? I can’t be overly specific because I don’t know the facts, but as an approach that would be a good one to take.”

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