Should the UK government have frozen properties owned by Libyans in London?

Before I start I would like to introduce myself to those of you who do not know me. I Mohammad (Mamad) Kashani-Akhavan have been working as an International Property Investment Consultant based in London for the past twenty nine years. I shall limit my response to the above question to my own area of expertise: international investors and their continued interest in the London property market.

There are many reasons that make investing in the London property market attractive to foreign investors. One of the most important reasons is the fact that the UK has an established legal system for safeguarding foreign ownership, which gives foreign investors the security and confidence they need to invest.

London property has proved a powerful tool in attracting foreign investment that has benefited the UK economy. It is therefore extremely worrying to realise that the UK government - for political reasons - has frozen Libyan owned properties in London without a valid legal reason.

The fact is that in the UK properties can only be purchased legally and in compliance with all the UK laws and regulations. It therefore does not follow that the UK government should be allowed to prevent any foreign investor from selling assets which they have already purchased by following all the UK laws and regulations. Surely the only authority in the UK that should have the power to freeze properties in the UK should be the Court and not the UK government?

In my opinion, the UK government should not have undermined the confidence of foreign investors in the protection of the British legal system for foreign ownership. It seems to me, that the UK government is lecturing other countries about the importance of the Rule of Law and yet conveniently, it has completely forgotten that we are all innocent - including unpopular foreign rulers - until proven guilty. I believe that the freezing of Libyan owned properties in London has seriously damaged the UK’s reputation as a safe haven in the eyes of many international investors.

Mamad Kashani Akhavan