Whole regions of England are now owned by holding companies in tax-havens "from Panama to Luxembourg, and from Liechtenstein to the South Pacific island of Niue."
Private Eye's interactive map mines Land Registry information to find the properties owned by "companies, arms dealers, oligarchs, money launderers and others who use offshore companies and dig up their true owners, from Russian oligarchs to the patriotic owners of the Daily Mail, whose tax-exile patriarch can pass on millions tax free through a Bermudan company.
Many of the properties held by mysterious, offshore entities are former Crown Properties, sold off by the Queen to shadowy, tax-dodgers who claim to be in Panama and the Seychelles.
Borodin is one of scores of wealthy Russians who have bought English property through offshore companies. When the Eye looked at one of Britain’s richest streets, Kensington Palace Gardens, it emerged that one home had been acquired (reportedly for a nine-figure sum) by the oil-to-media businessman who topped the most recent Sunday Times Rich List, Leonard Blavatnik.
He used a Delaware company, while neighbour, fellow oligarch and Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich bought his pile through a Cyprus company. Since 2005 six other properties on the same road have been bought by BVI companies, two by companies registered in St Vincent and Grenadines and one in the Bahamas.
It is not known who is behind these latter purchases, nor where their money came from, but whoever they were they found an almost indecently willing seller at the heart of the British establishment. The freeholds on Kensington Palace Gardens are owned by The Crown Estate, which means they are legally property of the Queen but with all profits going to the Treasury, less 25 percent of operating profit which since 2012 has replaced Brenda’s civil list payments.
Such a body which also owns prime London property from Westminster to Hyde Park and swathes of coastal Britain might be expected to show some reluctance to sell offshore (even to the Queen’s own tax havens). But the Eye discovered that in the two years up to March 2014, it sold £135m worth to offshore companies.
In total the Eye found 120 former Crown Estate properties that, directly or indirectly, have ended up owned by companies in tax havens including Panama and the Seychelles. The real owners of most remain entirely anonymous.
Selling England by the offshore pound [Private Eye]