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UK for Sale: Gulf Royals Own More Than £1bn of Britain Property via Tax Havens

UK for Sale: Gulf Royals Own More Than £1bn of Britain Property via Tax Havens
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By Staff, The Guardian

The British Guardian daily unveiled that “The royal families of Gulf states including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar own more than £1bn of UK property via offshore jurisdictions, such as Jersey and the British Virgin Islands.”

Nearly 200 properties, including hotels, London mansions and country estates, belong to a few small but super-rich dynasties, according to analysis of a new government register that reveals who is behind offshore companies that own UK property.

Gulf royals who hold assets through offshore entities include Sheikh Mansour, the owner of Manchester City football club, members of the Al-Saud ruling family of Saudi Arabia, and the Al-Thani clan that controls Qatar.

The most expensive is a £150m Surrey estate which, according to Land Registry documents, is owned by Sheikh Mansour’s wife, Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed Al-Maktoum.

Sheikh Mansour, who is the deputy prime minister of the UAE, owns 17 other land titles via Jersey, including a London apartment and land connected to urban developments in Manchester.

The Saudi royal family also holds a vast array of property via offshore entities, including the Holme, a lakeside manor in the middle of London’s Regent’s Park, built in 1818.

The property is owned by a Guernsey-based entity, whose beneficial owners include Abdullah bin Khalid Al Saud, the kingdom’s representative at the United Nations. It was reportedly for sale for £185m in 2020.

Another royal, Turki bin Salman Al Saud, is the ninth son of the king and brother to the country’s de facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman. Turki Al Saud owns a BVI-based company called Moncrieff Holdings, which owns 18 properties in London, including flats in the Pinto Tower in Nine Elms.

Qatari royals have also used offshore jurisdictions to spend vast sums on UK property. Sheikh Thani bin Abdullah al-Thani, a member of the dynasty that has ruled over Qatar since the 19th century, owns 12 companies on the register of overseas entities, all of them based in the British Virgin Islands.

Those companies own 16 properties, including 160 Great Portland Street in London, a seven-floor office block purchased for £127m in 2018, according to Land Registry records.

In total, members of the ruling families of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Jordan and Bahrain own nearly 200 properties worth at least £1bn via offshore companies in the BVIs, Jersey, Guernsey and Panama.