Land Registry privatisation leading to Planning Sytem violations

Ram Selva seeds at
Sat Apr 9 16:33:38 BST 2016

[This post is intended along the lines of  TLIO's stated interest to 
address opening up the Land Registry or at least aimed at contributing 
to opposition for privatisation of the Land Registry]

Pls note how TBIJ and BNP Paribas argue over what is little available 
Land Registry data ( addressing the land grab from the poor by 
hiding Planning Gain):

-- Greenwich Peninsula land grab, the biggest regeration project in UK, 
is important for not just its iconic status but also for offshore 
property entities like Knight Dragon of Macau and  Lend Lease shredding 
decades of community led planning system developments.
-- Knight Dragon (a component of 'New World Development' based in Hong 
Kong) and Lend Lease (key intl. property arm of Lend Lease is now part 
of Offshore banking proponent and even runner of Macau Gaming Index, 
Macquarie Group) who build global infrastructure like casino 
developments as in Macau swapping Master Plans fro Greenwich peninsula 
and associated Land registry opaqueness are actually touted as conducted 
in the most transparent environment in the world - the London property 

If the Land Registry is privatised scrutiny of planning applications for 
large projects will be negatively affected.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: [Diggers350] George Osborne ‘personally benefited’  from  £6m 
property sale to tax-dodging company
Date: 07-04-2016 11:58
 From: "Tony Gosling tony at [Diggers350]" 
<Diggers350-noreply at>
To: diggers350 at
Reply-To: Tony Gosling <tony at>

Land Registry faces privatisation

Government agency that documents ownership of land and property across 
England and Wales to be sold off after 150 years as state institution
<>Heather Stewart, 
<>Hilary Osborne and 
<>Rowena Mason Thursday 
24 March 2016 19.35 GMTLast modified on Thursday 24 March 201623.25 GMT#

The Land Registry is being put for up for sale less than two years after 
Liberal Democrats blocked previous plans for a £1bn-plus privatisation.
Union leaders criticised what they called the “cynical” timing. Mark 
Serwotka,general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union, 
said: “Homebuyers and owners rely on the Land Registry to provide an 
impartial professional service and it must remain under public control, 
free from any profit motive and conflict of interest.
“It is utterly disgraceful that the government waited until the end of 
the day before MPs break for Easter to publish its consultation, but is 
a sure sign ministers know the strength and breadth of opposition they 
will face.”
The Land Registry employs more than 4,500 civil servants and plays an 
important role in the property market, holding 24m titles for the 
ownership of properties across England and Wales.
George Osborne is keen to press ahead with selling off £20bn-worth of 
public assets, including stakes in the bailed-out banks, by the end of 
this parliament, in what is expected to be the biggest wave of 
privatisations since Margaret Thatcher was in Downing Street..........

George Osborne ‘personally benefited’ from £6m property sale to 
tax-dodging company
By <>Summer 
Winterbottom - 6th April 2016
Chancellor George Osborne, who owns a 15% stake in his family’s business 
Osborne & Little Group Ltd, ‘personally benefited’ from the sale of £6m 
worth of property to a company based in the British Virgin Islands – a 
well-known tax haven.
following an investigation by Channel 4 News in 2015, Osborne & Little 
Ltd teamed up with a company called Nightingale Mews Inc. to redevelop 
the site of its former headquarters.
Both companies jointly applied for planning permission, and once they 
were given the green light, Osborne & Little sold their site to the 
offshore firm for £6,088,000.
At this point in time in 2005, the soon-to-be Chancellor of the 
Exchequer was the beneficiary of a trust that owned at least a 15% stake 
in the family-run business, and so George Osborne would have ‘personally 
benefited’ from a chunk of this £6m windfall.

However, it is not known exactly how much Mr Osborne personally received 
from the sale.

David Quentin, a Barrister and Senior Advisor to the Tax Justice Network 
said that Osborne & Little were fully aware that they were dealing with 
a company based in an offshore tax-haven, stating:
It’s quite clear that we’re dealing with an offshore company. If you 
look at this agreement, you see that the buyer company is named and then 
it’s expressly described as incorporated in the British Virgin Islands.”
He added that by basing itself in the British Virgin Islands, 
Nightingale Mews Inc would have avoided any tax on profits it made.
Instead of paying UK tax on that profit, it would be able to realise 
that profit tax free
Land registry records shows that after the redevelopment, Nightingale 
Mews Inc. sold the property for around £20m, with an estimated profit of 
£8m. By being based in a tax haven, the company avoided paying £2m in UK 
corporation tax.
Immediately following the sale of the property, Nightingale Mews Inc was 
dissolved, leaving no trace of any individuals involved in the deal.
Read This:  The mainstream media has hijacked the English language for 
their own agenda. We need to take it back.
When Channel 4 News contacted George Osborne regarding the claims, his 
office refused to answer questions, stating that “This is a totally 
bogus and desperate story.”
With the Panama Papers scandal bringing the shady dealings of secretive 
offshore companies into the mainstream media, the resurfacing of this 
story will be a further embarrassment to a Chancellor who today 
an interview when asked about his involvement with offshore companies.
George Osborne has also previously advocated ways of avoiding paying 
inheritance tax on The Daily Politics show, and it seems he is well 
versed on ways of skirting around the laws he is now tasked with 
Osborne & Little have previously come under fire for paying 
a single penny in corporation tax for seven years, despite paying out 
dividends worth £335,000 to shareholders in 2014. Payments that include 
a sum of £1,230 directly to George Osborne himself.
In 2012, George Osborne himself stated that tax avoidance is ‘morally 

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Revealed: the tycoons and world leaders who built secret UK property 

The Panama Papers show how billions of pounds of offshore cash flooded 
the British property market

Bengtsson and 
Watt   Tuesday 5 April 2016 15.45 BST

The president of the 
Arab Emirates has secretly built one of the single biggest offshore 
property empires in Britain, the Panama Papers reveal.

Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan owns dozens of central 
properties worth more than £1.2bn through offshore companies supplied by 
Mossack Fonseca.

His property portfolio runs from the BHS building on Oxford Street to 
the designer outlets of Bruton Street and Mayfair’s Berkeley Square 
estate, where his tenants include Hermès, Stella McCartney and Annabel’s 

World leaders, business people and celebrities are among those whose 
anonymous ownership of London property has been exposed by the massive 
leak of the Panama law firm’s data on offshore companies.

The prime minister of 
Iraq’s former interim prime minister and the president of the Nigerian 
senate are among those whose links to London property are detailed by 
the files.

More than £170bn of UK property is now held overseas. Much of that is in 
London, where unprecedented house price inflation has transformed homes 
into highly profitable investments for asset speculators. Nearly one in 
10 of the 31,000 tax haven companies that own British property are 
linked to Mossack Fonseca.

Owning UK property through offshore companies is perfectly legal. 
However in some parts of the country, particularly in London, the use of 
offshore companies to purchase properties as investment assets rather 
than homes has helped fuel house price inflation.

Around 2,800 Mossack Fonseca companies appear on a Land Registry list of 
overseas property owners dating from 2014. The companies are connected 
to more than 6,000 title deeds worth at least £7bn, although the true 
value is likely to be greater since many property deeds do not specify 
the price paid for the property. There is no suggestion of any 
wrongdoing or unethical behaviour on the part of any of the offshore 
property owners identified by the files.

It was previously known that the ruling family of the UAE, based in Abu 
Dhabi, had made inroads into the UK property market.

The president’s father, Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, 
the purchase of the Berkeley Square estate of commercial and residential 
property in the heart of Mayfair in 2005, and two years ago it was 
reported that the Nahyan family had become the largest Mayfair 
landowners after the Duke of Westminster.

But the leaked files reveal their property interests extend far beyond 
this, with a string of commercial units on Sloane Street and a £160m 
stretch of property along Kensington’s De Vere Gardens, along with other 
holdings in Marylebone Road, Richmond and Oxford Street.

A 2014 email from Nahyan’s lawyers names him as the beneficial owner of 
a dozen offshore companies that also appear in the Land Registry’s list 
of overseas companies that own British property. Ninety title deeds, 
some of which include dozens of properties, are linked to the Nahyan 

In some cases Nahyan’s property owning companies were themselves owned 
by other offshore companies, which held their assets in trust for the 
president. His identity was anonymised in all but a few documents. “We 
do not, as you know, refer to His Highness by name in our work for the 
companies and do so by exception here, in order to assist you,” Nahyan’s 
lawyer wrote in one letter.

The president did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Also named in the files is Mariam Safdar, the married name of the 
daughter of the Pakistani prime minister, Nawaz Sharif. A 2012 email 
identifies Safdar, usually known as Mariam Nawaz Sharif, as having been 
the beneficial owner of two offshore companies that each own flats in 
Avenfield House on Park Lane.

The Sharif family has previously 
any impropriety in relation to the property, saying they were bought 
because the Sharif children were studying in London. On Monday the 
Sharif family issued a statement declaring that Safdar “is not a 
beneficiary or owner of any of these companies”. Separately Sharif’s 
son, Hussain, 
that the family had done nothing wrong. “It is according to British law 
and laws of other countries that it is a legal way to avoid unnecessary 
tax via offshore companies,” he said.

Ayad Allawi, who spent years in exile before becoming Iraq’s prime 
minister in the wake of his country’s war, is identified as a director 
of two British Virgin Islands companies that own property.

Foxwood Estates Limited bought a £2.75m Kensington town house in 2008, 
while one year later Moonlight Estates Limited bought a £750,000 
commercial building on Edgware Road. A spokesperson for Allawi told the 
International Consortium of Investigative Journalists that the companies 
had been set up based on security and legal advice.

At least 700 properties were owned by companies named in the Panama 
Papers that were themselves owned through bearer shares – anonymous 
documents that grant ownership to the person physically holding the 
certificate. Bearer shares are now in effect banned in many countries, 
including the UK, due to their attractiveness to criminals.

An offshore company connected to 
Hunt, reported in 2011 by the Sunday Times to be a gangster, is also 
named in the files. EMM Limited used to own an industrial property in 
east London at which Hunt ran an iron and steel business.

Mossack Fonseca appears to still act for Hunt’s company, despite a 
high-profile libel case in which the high court threw out Hunt’s 
defamation suit against the Sunday Times. The files also contain a 2008 
letter from Hunt in which he admitted there was “missing documentation” 
relating to the affairs of the company, including accounting records.

Hunt’s lawyer said that EMM was an “off-the-shelf” company bought in 
1997 to own the property as a result of advice from a Jersey accountant 
that he subsequently discovered to be wrong. “In 2006 … Mr Hunt entered 
into an agreement with HMRC under which he provided full disclosure of 
his affairs, including in relation to EMM Limited, and settled all his 
tax liabilities,” he added.

Bukola Saraki, the president of the Nigerian senate who is currently 
facing allegations that he failed to declare his assets, owns a property 
in Belgravia in his own name. The Panama Papers reveal the £5.7m 
property next door to be owned by companies incorporated in the 
Seychelles and BVI, whose respective shareholders are Saraki’s wife and 
former special assistant. Saraki told the Guardian he had declared all 
his assets correctly and in accordance with Nigerian legislation.

In another instance, a £1.65m townhouse in Kensington and Chelsea is 
shown as belonging to a BVI company whose sole shareholder is Folorunsho 
Coker, the former head of the number plate production authority of the 
state of Lagos and currently business adviser to the governor of Lagos. 
Coker’s lawyer said he had multiple sources of income and had always 
declared his interest in Satori Holdings to the Nigerian authorities.

Offshore companies and trusts can also enable investors to keep assets 
hidden while potentially reducing capital gains and inheritance tax or 
stamp duty in a manner not available to ordinary homeowners.

Transparency campaigners have warned the secrecy of such arrangements 
can enable large sums of black money to be laundered through the 
property market. A senior National Crime Agency director warned last 
year that the capital’s housing market had been “skewed by laundered 

The British government recently launched a consultation into whether to 
force offshore property owners to disclose their identities after 
Cameron expressed concern that UK properties “are being bought by people 
overseas through anonymous shell companies, some with plundered or 
laundered cash”.

Panama Papers reporting team: Juliette Garside, Luke Harding, Holly 
Watt, David Pegg, Helena Bengtsson, Simon Bowers, Owen Gibson and Nick 

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