Thursday, July 04, 2019

Who Owns London?

Secret Property Ownership in London is a choropleth map of the number of properties in each London authority area which are owned by companies incorporated in secrecy jurisdictions. A 'secrecy jurisdiction' is what is more commonly referred to as a 'tax haven'. In other words a secrecy jurisdiction is a country which offers a company little or no tax liability and financial secrecy. A secrecy jurisdiction is therefore used by companies in order to avoid paying tax.

Because properties in the UK can be registered to companies who are incorporated in secrecy jurisdictions buying property in the UK is a convenient way for criminals and criminal gangs to launder money. 40% of all the anonymously owned properties owned in the UK are in London. By far the largest number of these are in Westminster, where over 10,000 properties are registered to companies incorporated in a secrecy jurisdiction. In neighboring Kensington and Chelsea a further 5,729 properties are anonymously owned.

Last year the BBC discovered that 97,000 properties in England and Wales are owned by overseas companies. In Firms on Caribbean island chain own 23,000 UK properties the BBC has mapped all the properties in England & Wales which are owned by these overseas companies.

The map reveals that in central London a huge percentage of properties are now owned by overseas firms. If you want to know who owns a property you can click on the map marker to reveal the name of the company and the country where that country is incorporated. Unfortunately if that company is incorporated in a tax haven then you probably won't be able to find out who actually owns the company and therefore whether that company is being used to launder money for criminal gangs.

Back in 2015 Private Eye created the first interactive map showing the amount of English & Welsh land that had been bought up by offshore companies. Selling England by the Offshore Pound used Land Registry data to plot all land parcels registered in the name of an offshore company between 2005 and July 2014.

Anna Powell-Smith, who created the map for Private Eye, went on to create Who Owns England.Who Owns England has created a number of interactive maps exploring property and land ownership in he UK. Their main map includes a layer which shows land owned by overseas companies. You can filter the map to show only the land and buildings owned by these companies incorporated overseas.

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