Island tax haven firms own 23,000 UK properties
A quarter of property in England and Wales owned by overseas ¿rms is held by entities registered in the British Virgin Islands, BBC analysis has found.
The Caribbean archipelago is the of¿cial home of companies that own 23,000 properties — more than any other country.
They are owned by 11,700 ¿rms registered in the overseas territory.
The ¿nding emerged from BBC analysis conducted of Land Registry data on overseas property ownership.
The research found there are around 97,000 properties in England and Wales held by overseas ¿rms, as of January 2018.
It adds to concerns that companies registered in British-controlled tax havens have been used to avoid tax.
Close behind the British Virgin Islands (BVI), which has a population of just 30,600, are Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.
Of the properties owned by overseas companies in England and Wales, two thirds are registered to ¿rms in the British Virgin Islands, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.
Many foreign UK property owners are also of¿cially headquartered in Hong Kong, Panama and Ireland.
The analysis provides a new picture of ownership of property by overseas companies in England and Wales following a decision last November to make the database public and free to access.
● Close to half (44 percent) of all properties owned by overseas companies in England and Wales are located in London
● More than one in ten (11,500) properties owned by overseas companies in England and Wales are located in the City of Westminster
● More than 6,000 properties owned by foreign companies are in the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
The government of the British Virgin Islands said it was incorrect to label the country as a tax haven.
It said that there were many practical reasons why UK properties might be owned by companies incorporated in the BVI.
It argued that BVI companies can bring together multiple investors and owners, which is useful for big commercial property deals that have investors in more than one country.
The BVI also said that it shared ‘necessary information’ including ownership details with relevant authorities.