Moscow’s Feud with West Drives Rich Russian Emigrants back to Russia

Moscow’s deteriorating relationship with the West and stricter checks of money origins in the UK have forced many rich Russian emigrants to consider returning to their homeland.

House in Moscow regionHouse in Moscow region By Svetlana Glazkina (CC BY-SA 4.0) Russian businessmen living in Europe have started buying elite properties in and around Moscow end of last year and the trend stretched throughout the first three months of 2018, which saw a 21 percent increase in requests for property offers, Kommersant reported.

Experts from the Moscow-based Metrium real estate agency said that among those trying to return to Russia were wealthy businessmen who left their homeland either because they were in conflict with the government or because of fear of economic stagnation after Putin won his third presidential term in 2012.

Now they are unhappy with the business environment in the West.

Although the demand for luxury real estate has grown, the average budget for a deal has dropped.

Anna Karpova, director of the luxury real estate department at Est-a-Tet, explained that million dollars homes were in demand before, while now buyers seek cheaper homes.

Metrium experts say that 66 percent of the requests to purchase come from wealthy Russians now living in Great Britain.  

As of recently, the UK has begun forcing people owning property worth more than £50,000 (US$70,000) to explain where they got their money from and if they fail to provide a good answer, their property can be seized.

The new "unexplained wealth orders” - measures that target UK residents who may be laundering money - are designed to go after criminals and corrupt politicians from outside the EU who are using the UK to store their illegal wealth.

According to a 2015 Deutsche Bank report, ‘secretive’ wealth worth around £1 billion (US$1.4 billion) per month is flowing into the UK, with significant levels of this coming from Russia.