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Revealed: Where offshore companies buy property in Newham

PUBLISHED: 11:29 14 November 2017

Buildings and swathes of land in Newham were sold to offshore companies - including 20 parking spaces near Royal Victoria DLR Station. Picture: Ken Mears

Buildings and swathes of land in Newham were sold to offshore companies - including 20 parking spaces near Royal Victoria DLR Station. Picture: Ken Mears

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Offshore firms in tax havens have snapped up at least £1billion worth of property in east London.

Newly-released data from the Land Registry reveal foreign firms bought more than just flats and houses in deals shrouded in secrecy, but swathes of land, airspace and even parking spaces.

It reveals a property portfolio worth at least £1billion is stashed away in an offshore empire covering Barking and Dagenham, Newham and Tower Hamlets.

But sale prices are not included on more than half the listings, meaning the actual figure is likely far higher.

The data’s release came the week ministers were warned Britain and its territories had become “the place of choice” for those looking to funnel away funds and avoid tax.

Many companies are registered in homegrown tax havens including the Isle of Man, British Virgin Islands (BVI) and Jersey.

While foreign companies purchasing property in the UK is completely legal, transparency campaigners argue these firms do not have to reveal their owners and prevent much-needed taxes from reaching public services.

More than 650 properties in Newham, costing £150million, were bought by firms registered offshore over the last two decades, according to the Land Registry data.

The borough’s properties were rich pickings for BVI-registered firms, who were named on about a third of sales, followed by Ireland (110 sales) and the Isle of Man (87).

The biggest purchases in Newham were:

• Land at the junction of Burford Road and High Street, by Stratford High East DLR Station (£6.4m).

• Land at High Street North, East Ham (£5.8m).

• A unit at Cody Business Centre, North Crescent (£4.7m).

One company registered in Ireland, Cashalstone Developments Ltd, bought 85 flats at the Bellhaven building in Millstone Close, Stratford, paying prices from £180,000 each.

Meanwhile BVI-registered firm Sakura Assets spent an undisclosed sum on 20 parking spaces in Tidal Basin Road; a short walk from Royal Victoria DLR Station.

Plans to privatise the Land Registry were scrapped last year amid outcry the move would hide public data from public scrutiny.

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