Potential Land Registry bidders linked to tax havens - report
Every investment firm mulling over a bid for the Land Registry when it becomes privatised has links to offshore tax havens, according to a report.
Research by The Times and 38 Degrees suggests all the potential bidders have business ties to secretive and low-tax jurisdictions including the Cayman Islands, Jersey and the US state of Delaware.
In March Business Secretary Sajid Javid launched a consultation on privatisation of the Land Registry, which collects information on every house sale in England and Wales.
The consultation on the sale of the organisation, which is valued at £1.2bn, closes today.
The companies thought to be interested in the privatisation are Canadian pension giant, Omers, and American private equity firms Advent International and Hellman & Friedman, The Times reports.
Campaigners argue the public-access database is a vital transparency tool which helps to root out corruption in the British property market.
The government-funded Open Data Institute has warned that privatisation could lead to “restrictive licensing or paid models” for access to data.
The New Economics Foundation meanwhile suggests the taxpayer would ultimately lose out from the sale, as the Land Registry sustains itself financially.
Proposals for a sale in 2014 were opposed by 90% of users of the service, including property professionals, according to Private Eye magazine.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan yesterday condemned foreign investors for using homes in the capital as “gold bricks for investment” amid an ongoing housing crisis.
His comments came off the back of a Guardian investigation which used Land Registry data to show the UK’s tallest residential skyscraper is more than 60% foreign-owned and stands under-occupied.