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Thousands of Offshore Companies with UK Property Still Not Stating Real Owners

Thousands of Offshore Companies with UK Property Still Not Stating Real Owners
folder_openUnited Kingdom access_timeone month ago
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By Staff, Agencies

Thousands of offshore companies with UK properties are still not publicly declaring their ultimate owners because they are controlled by secretive trusts, according to new data.

About 18,000 companies have so far registered with the government’s new register of overseas entities, which was brought in to improve transparency about offshore property ownership. The deadline to sign up is this Tuesday.

However, at least 2,400 companies with UK property still do not reveal their beneficial owners because they are trusts based offshore.

The government gave an exemption to trusts when it brought in the public register, although the owners will have to give their details privately, which will be available to HMRC.

About 5,800 of the beneficial owners so far – about a third – are named as companies rather than individuals, with at least 2,412 of these appearing as trusts with no public information on the register about who is behind them.

Offshore companies with UK property are meant to make declarations to the register by 31 January.

Holding properties through offshore companies is legal and some individuals may have genuine and legitimate privacy or security concerns or business reasons for using them.

Experts say it can be done to minimize an individual’s tax liability as the owner or buyer of a property or, until now, to allow a property to be held anonymously. Some investors also cite the stability of the tax regime in jurisdictions such as Jersey and Guernsey as a reason their companies are based there, or they may live abroad.