Futures Forum: How the corrupt London property market has happened >>> Kleptocracy, a hobbled planning system and an obsession with house prices
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: of Paradise Papers and specialising in vulture funds
Futures Forum: "If Brexit was the creation, in part, of this new world of offshore money and political influence campaigns, Brexit may well ensure that it continues unrestricted."
Earlier in the month, Private Eye published the results of its research into the offshore haven:
Selling England (and Wales) by the pound
IN September 2015 Private Eye created an easily searchable online map (see below) of properties in England and Wales owned by offshore companies. It reveals for the first time the extent of the British property interests of companies based in tax havens from Panama to Luxembourg, and from Liechtenstein to the South Pacific island of Niue. Most are held in this way for tax avoidance and often to conceal dubious wealth.
Using Land Registry data released under Freedom of Information laws, and then linking around 100,000 land title register entries to specific addresses, the Eye has mapped all leasehold and freehold interests acquired by offshore companies between 2005 and 2014.
Using this data the Eye published a series of exposes of the companies, arms dealers, oligarchs, money launderers and others who use offshore companies. Now Private Eye, using the same data, is also publishing a database of all properties acquired by offshore companies from 1999 to 2014, showing the address, the offshore corporate owners (some have more than one) and, where available, the price paid.
To download the 1999-2014 database, click here » (Excel file, 8.2MB)
Download the FREE Tax Haven Special Report here » (PDF)
Want to know which tax haven companies own property in your town? | East Devon Watch
A close-up of Private Eye's map here in Sidmouth shows a seafront hotel, acquired about five years ago and now with a new name - where work is currently underway to build new housing right on the main road - the application having been contested by the Town Council at the time:
Private Eye Magazine | Official Site - the UK's number one best-selling news and current affairs magazine, edited by Ian Hislop
At the same time, the Global Witness group has been campaigning for greater transparency:
CLEANING UP BRITAIN'S PROPERTY SECTOR
18th March 2019
We found that 87,000 properties in England and Wales were owned by anonymous companies registered in tax havens – an almost identical number to when we last measured in 2017. The total value of these properties, which are mostly clustered in the priciest parts of central London, is at least £56 billion according to Land Registry data – but it could be as much as double that once inflation and missing price data are taken into account.
Brexit chaos should not distract from cleaning up Britain's property sector | Global Witness
And the Herald is showing interest:
There are 100 properties in East Devon owned by tax haven companies
PUBLISHED: 12:00 30 March 2019
There are 100 properties in East Devon owned by companies registered in offshore tax havens, which campaigners warn could be being exploited by criminals.
Analysis of the Land Registry for England and Wales has revealed more than 87,000 properties worth an estimated £100billion are owned by anonymous overseas companies.
Campaign group Global Witness, which carried out the research, says the figures demonstrate the ‘alarming scale of the UK’s secret property scandal’, which criminals could be using to launder money.
In East Devon, there are 103 properties owned by companies registered outside of the UK. Of these, 100 are owned by companies based in so-called secrecy jurisdictions, or tax havens – countries whose laws allow them to keep their financial activities private or to pay a low amount of tax.
Companies registered in Guernsey own the largest share in East Devon, with 34 properties. This is followed by Jersey, on 33 properties, and the Isle of Man, with 28.
Information about the sale price has been provided for 28 per cent of the tax haven-owned properties, which had a combined cost of £14million.
Global Witness used the average price of property in East Devon to estimate the value of the remaining properties, which suggests the true value could be £49million after inflation is taken into account. This could be a conservative estimate, as property prices in England and Wales generally rise above the rate of inflation, it added.
The group said the government had pledged to introduce a new register of UK property owners, but that progress had been slow.
Ava Lee, senior anti-corruption campaigner at Global Witness, said: “It’s increasingly clear that UK property is one of the favourite tools of the criminal and corrupt for stashing and laundering stolen cash.
“There’s some good news. Parliament is reviewing a draft law that could force these secret owners out of the shadows. We’re calling on the Government to table this legislation as quickly as possible, so we can find out who really owns so much of the UK.”
The new legislation would mean companies buying property in the UK would have to reveal the identity of their owners.
Across the South West, there are 5,360 properties owned by overseas companies, 89 per cent of which are registered in secret jurisdictions – 4,795 in total. The properties owned by companies registered in tax havens are worth an estimated £3billion.
HMRC said there is ‘absolutely no place for illicit finance in the UK’.
A spokesman said: “We take our response to money laundering very seriously through our supervision of high risk sectors. Increasingly we are seeking to use our supervisory, enforcement and tax powers in concert, enabling us to increase our focus on the enablers of tax crime and money laundering.”
He added that estate agents were legally obliged to register with HMRC for anti-money laundering supervision, and faced action if they failed to do so.
There are 100 properties in East Devon owned by tax haven companies | Latest Sidmouth and Ottery News - Sidmouth Herald