Oportunitas Ltd a company 100% owned by Shepway District Council, has as you may or may not know, purchased 19 Castle Hill Avenue for £1.2 million pounds on the 19th May 2017. This is property number nine which Oportunitas Ltd now owns according to the Land Registry and Companies House.
The £1.2 million went offshore to King Winchester 2014 Limited a company incorporated in Jersey & owned by Mr & Mrs Sharp.
But in a recent Parliamentary Report by the Public Accounts Committee they state:
“We are concerned that the Department for Communities and Local Government (the Department) appears complacent about the risks to local authority finances, council tax payers and local service users resulting from local authorities increasingly acting as property developers and commercial landlords with the primary aim of generating income. “
The Public Accounts Committee go on to say:
“We are also concerned that some authorities might lack the necessary commercial skills and experience amongst both members and officers. If commercial decisions go wrong, council tax payers will end up footing the bill and other services will be under threat.“
House prices in Britain have fallen for the third month in a row, for the first time since the height of the financial crisis in 2009.
The fall further dragged down the annual growth rate in May, to 2.1%, the lowest in nearly four years, providing further evidence that the housing market is losing steam, according to Nationwide, the UK’s biggest building society.
Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: “It is still early days, but this provides further evidence that the housing market is losing momentum.”
Shepway District Council’s company, Oportunitas Ltd, is it seems a one trick pony and has all it eggs in one basket, not a wise idea we believe. Perhaps they should diversify just in case the worse does happen in the housing market.
Anyway, 19 Castle Hill Avenue was sold in April 2003 for £425,000 to the Markram Family, who held onto it until 10/1/2008 when they sold it onto Mr Paul Edward Hague and another, (no price given). A year later, 2/10/2009, Mr Hague had bought out the joint owner, (no price given). It is known that he received monies from the No Use Empty Scheme to do the property up and bring it back into use. However, the property sat empty for seven years and then on the 12/10/2016 the Jersey based company buy it as part of a package of 3 properties, for which they paid a total sum of £2.3 million. In a little over seven months, they sell it to SDC’s company Oportunitas Ltd (19/5/17).
Offshore ownership of UK properties has steadily increased. So much so that companies from the British Virgin Islands now own 22,849 properties in the UK.
Offshore companies owning UK property and based in Jersey comes in as second on the list with 20,900 properties owned and 19 Castle Hill Avenue was one of them.
The Isle of Man comes in fourth.
According to the Transparency International Report (March 2015) – Corruption On Your Doorstep – “UK property has long been a safe haven for overseas investors seeking a stable political and business climate, financial security or an attractive place to live. However, there is growing evidence that it has also become a safe haven for corrupt capital stolen from around the world, facilitated by the laws which allow UK property to be owned by secret offshore companies.
In 2013 the – now dissolved – Financial Services Authority (FSA) estimated that every year between £23bn and £57bn was being laundered within and through the UK, which corresponds respectively to 1.4 per cent and 3.6 per cent of the national real GDP for that year
Buying property and/or land either by SDC, or its company, Oportunitas Ltd from offshore owners is starting to become a bit of a habit. Not a good one we personally believe.
Anyway, another £1.2 million of local council taxpayers money went offshore to Jersey, and in Dec 2016, £1.5 million went offshore to Mr Adrian Kirby a convicted criminal. Does it matter? Of course it does, according to Transparency International, because there are risks which cannot be sensibly ignored.
The Shepwayvox Team