c-house-RTX2RHFZ-Luke MacGregor

Nobody knows who owns 86,000 properties in the UK—including one worth £215 million

86,000

Transparency continues to be a problem in the UK real estate sector, where the number of properties owned by shell companies has been sky-high for years.

Published   |  Photo by Reuters/Luke MacGregor
c-house-RTX2RHFZ-Luke MacGregor
86,000

There are 86,000 UK properties owned through companies in tax havens like the Isle of Man and the Virgin Islands. The identity of their real owners is unknown.

c-house-RTX2RHFZ-Luke MacGregor
86,000

Many are foreign politicians or their associates, suspected of corruption and using the British real estate market to clean and hide their money.

c-house-RTX2RHFZ-Luke MacGregor
86,000

Many are located in central London boroughs, including one property on Buckingham Palace Road worth £215 million ($290 million), owned by a shell company in Jersey.

c-house-RTX2RHFZ-Luke MacGregor
86,000

The number of secretly owned properties is also growing in other boroughs, like Tower Hamlets, and other cities, like Manchester.

c-house-RTX2RHFZ-Luke MacGregor
86,000

Last year, an investigation by the Home Affairs committee of the House of Commons concluded that the government was doing little to monitor buyers, agents, and sellers.

c-house-RTX2RHFZ-Luke MacGregor
86,000

In percentage terms, sketchy buyers are still rare: Out of 1.2 million property transactions in 2015, the National Crime Agency considered only 335 to be suspicious.

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