In conjunction with Ian Driver, a blogger from Thanet, we the Shepwayvox Team, bring you a district by district comparison of how many properties (includes land) are held in each of our 12 districts, across Kent, (excluding Medway) by overseas companies.
In the overseas property data released by the Land Registry recently, Greater London accounts for 44% of all overseas owned properties. This came as no surprise to us. To put this into perspective, Kent in comparison across all 12 Districts (excluding Medway), makes up just 2%.
So we have examined this 2% and compared district by district. No 1 in the graph below, shows Tonbridge & Malling district has 254 properties held overseas. Gravesham comes in last, with 50 properties owned by overseas companies in the district. The vast majority, of the properties held by overseas companies in our districts, are companies and/or persons registered in known tax haven jurisdictions, such as Belize, Cayman Islands, Luxembourg, Mauritius, and Switzerland.
The Land Registry data and the Paradise Papers data has not uncovered criminality like the Panama Papers which exposed illegal tax evasion. Instead the data from the Land Registry and Paradise Papers reveals a state of mind, where some believe it is entirely normal to ignore what Kent and UK citizens regard as their wider obligations that accompany good fortune.
To put this state of mind into perspective, Gabriel Zucman recently co-published a study that found wealthy Britons have stashed £300bn in offshore tax havens – that is equivalent to 15% of our GDP. That’s equivalent to giving the NHS £350 million a week for the next 16 years.
Meanwhile, Kent County Council will have to make further cuts of £73 million to the budget for 2017/18. That comes after five years of previous cuts.
Kent NHS is struggling financially, what with the doctors crisis in Folkestone, the closure of Canterbury Hospital and a shortage of dentists. Add to that the still unresolved crisis in social care, teachers pay, plus councils demanding that the cap on their borrowing to build is lifted.
Meanwhile, offshore companies such as Arrowgrass – a hedgefund based in the known tax haven of the Cayman Islands – hoover up Margate seafront.
The Reuben Brothers (pictured) climbing into bed with Shepway District Council, and who donated £150,000 to Theresa May’s 2017 election campaign, via their company Investors In Private Capital Ltd. Investors In Private Capital Limited are the guarantor for Cozumel Estates in the Collaboration Agreement (question 2). Investors In Private Capital Ltd is owned by the Reuben Brothers company, wellington-estates-ltd, another company registered in the British Virgin Islands and known tax haven.
And lets not forget the £3.5 bn pound Paramount theme park set to go ahead in Swanscombe Kent, financed by Kuwaiti European Holdings (KEH), owned by the Kuwaiti Al-Humaidi family.
Ending tax avoidance may never be possible. Nor, alone, would it raise enough to restore the fabric of Britain’s public services. But it could be more tightly controlled. And abuses like offshoring of profits by the likes of Apple, Nike, Amazon, Google, Facebook, Starbucks and the rest, needs international cooperation.
Theresa May ruled out (pictured) using financial clout to demand a public list of beneficiaries of offshore trusts. There are quite a few trusts in the Kent data released by the Land Registry. Financial services among others, are major Conservative donors. A similar proposal in the European Parliament was obstructed by British MEPs. You don’t bite the hand that feeds you.
Death and taxes are supposed to be inevitable. Now for anyone rich enough who owns a property in one of our 12 beautiful Kent districts via known tax havens, taxes appear merely optional to them. So the Land Registry data, plus the Panama Papers and the Paradise Papers, dispels the myth once and for all that we are all in it together. We are not.
The Shepwayvox Team.
There are legitimate uses for offshore companies and trusts. We do not intend to suggest or imply that any people, companies or other entities included in this blogpost have broken the law or otherwise acted improperly.