Tax haven firms own 23,000 UK properties

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Image caption The particular British Virgin Islands are house to 11, 700 firms buying UK property

A quarter of real estate in England and Wales owned simply by overseas firms is held simply by entities registered in the British Virgin mobile Islands, BBC analysis has discovered.

The Caribbean islands is the official home of businesses that own 23, 000 qualities – more than any other country.

They are owned by eleven, 700 firms registered in the abroad territory.

The choosing emerged from BBC analysis executed of Land Registry data upon overseas property ownership.

The research found there are around ninety-seven, 000 properties in England and Wales held by overseas firms, since January 2018.

It adds to concerns that businesses registered in British-controlled tax havens have been used to avoid tax.


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Map built simply by Carto. If you can’t see the map, make sure you click here to open the same story on the BBC News website.

Note: Property locations are usually approximate based on the centre point from the postcode they fall into. As such they are removed when the map is zoomed to the most detailed levels. Possession information like the company name plus country refer to the ultimate owner from the property, not necessarily the person or organization that may rent or occupy the home.


Close behind the British Virgin mobile Islands (BVI), which has a population associated with just 30, 600, are Shirt, Guernsey and the Isle of Guy.

Of the properties possessed by overseas companies in England plus Wales, two thirds are signed up to firms in the British Virgin mobile Islands, Jersey, Guernsey and the Department of Man.

A lot of foreign UK property owners are also formally headquartered in Hong Kong, Panama plus Ireland.

The evaluation provides a new picture of possession of property by overseas businesses in England and Wales following a choice last November to make the database general public and free to access.

It found:

  • Near to half (44%) of all properties possessed by overseas companies in England plus Wales are located in London
  • More than one within ten (11, 500) properties possessed by overseas companies in England plus Wales are located in the City of Westminster
  • More than 6, 000 properties possessed by foreign companies are in the Greater london borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

The federal government of the British Virgin Islands mentioned it was incorrect to label the nation as a tax haven.

It said that there were many useful reasons why UK properties might be possessed by companies incorporated in the BVI.

It argued that will BVI companies can bring together several investors and owners, which is helpful for big commercial property deals which have investors in more than one nation.

The BVI furthermore said that it shared “necessary information” including ownership details with related authorities.

Among those entries in the data source that disclosed a price, the most expensive was your former headquarters of the Metropolitan Law enforcement, New Scotland Yard, at 8-10 Broadway.

The website was purchased by the Abu Dhabi Financial Group in 2014 to get £ 370m from the Mayor associated with London’s office. But it is formally owned by a Jersey-based company known as BL Development.

The 1967 multi-storey block has been demolished to make way for “a luxury collection of one to five bed room apartments across six architecturally stunning towers”. These range in price through £ 1 . 5m to a lot more than £ 10m.

The particular leasehold of Admiralty Arch, the previous government building off Trafalgar Sq . that straddles one end from the Mall, was sold to resort developer Prime Investments for £ 141m. It is registered to a Guernsey-based entity, Admiralty Arch Hotels Limited.

Image copyright laws Getty Images
Picture caption New Scotland Lawn

As the most expensive buildings are commercial attributes such as hotels and office obstructs in prime central London areas, many are residential properties rather than company premises.

Take Eco-friendly Street, London W1 – the residential street of highly-desirable four-storey redbrick Victorian terraces, fronted simply by smart wrought-iron railings.

Walking east to western you’ll pass one terraced home owned, according to the latest records, from your Turks and Caicos Islands with a company called Alliance Property Limited. Next door is another residence owned simply by Lily Holding & Finance Incorporation, registered in BVI.

In all, 15 properties in the street are owned by companies signed up in the British Virgin Islands, 4 in Jersey and one in the Department of Man. Others have proprietors in Italy, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The leasehold of Admiralty Arch is registered to a Guernsey-based entity

Accountants used to recommend using an just offshore company to overseas buyers associated with property in the UK as a means of staying away from inheritance tax when the owner died.

“Until April 2017, if you weren’t resident in the UK plus held a residential property using a company it was not counted to be an asset for UK-based inheritance taxes purposes. So having a property via an offshore company meant you steered clear of inheritance tax, ” says Indicate Giddens, of accountants and professionals UHY Hacker Young.

However , since last year the government introduced plans to close the loophole, dramatically reducing the attractions associated with offshore ownership of residential house.

Offshore jurisdictions such as BVI still offer purchasers who wish to keep their names from the public realm greater privacy compared to they would enjoy if they purchased their home as an individual.

While most tax havens have decided to take part in automatic information exchange, enabling law enforcement agencies to discover the people who enjoy beneficial ownership of an just offshore company, their names will not come in the published data.

Only about a third of the attributes in the dataset have figures for that “price paid” by the company. The reason being HM Land Registry has just been collecting this information since Oct 2013, so information on properties marketed overseas before then will not have already been recorded.

Adding up the particular 27, 835 properties whose most current sale prices we know, the price compensated was just over £ 55 billion dollars.

Notes: The BBC analysed the The month of january 2018 Overseas Companies Ownership information made public by the HM Land Registry. The data is accurate up to The month of january 2018 and contains around 97, 500 title records of freehold plus leasehold property in England and Wales, registered to companies incorporated away from UK. The map shows 71, 000 of the 97, 000 tackles. Those missing had incomplete information.

Extra data journalism Ransome Mpini plus Daniele Palumbo.