REVEALED: The Peterborough land and properties worth millions owned by offshore companies

More than £100million worth of land and properties in Peterborough is owned by offshore companies it has been revealed.

Thursday, 7th April 2016, 11:08 am
Updated Thursday, 7th April 2016, 11:11 am

The use of offshore bank accounts and holding companies has been highlighted worldwide this week after the unprecedented leak of 11.5m files from the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca - called the Panama Papers.

Magazine Private Eye has created an easily searchable online map of properties in England and Wales owned by offshore companies.

It reveals for the first time the extent of the British property interests of companies based in tax havens from Panama to Luxembourg, and from Liechtenstein to the South Pacific island of Niue.

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Using Land Registry data released under Freedom of Information laws, and then linking around 100,000 land title register entries to specific addresses, the Private Eye has mapped all leasehold and freehold interests acquired by offshore companies between 2005 and 2014.

What are the Panama Papers?

The Panama Papers are an unprecedented leak of 11.5m files from the database of the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca.

The documents show the myriad ways in which the rich can exploit secretive offshore tax regimes. Twelve national leaders are among 143 politicians, their families and close associates from around the world known to have been using offshore tax havens.

The documents were passed to German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung and shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) to 107 media organisations including The Guardian and BBC’s Panorama.

Despite several years of pressure however, few UK Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories - said to make up a large part of the tax havens referred to in the papers - have taken concrete action to open up the books.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has approached the ICIJ for access to the data and said it would “act on it swiftly and appropriately” if there was any wrongdoing.

Among the disclosures are:

:: A suspected two billion dollar (£1.4 billion) money laundering ring run by a Russian bank and said to involve close associates of President Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin denied the president was connected to any wrongdoing and claimed he was the target of a smear operation

:: Mossack Fonseca set up a company suspected of being used to launder money from the 1983 Brink’s-Mat bullion heist. A spokesman for the law firm told the ICIJ any allegations the firm helped shield the proceeds of the Brink’s-Mat robbery “are entirely false”

:: Icelandic prime minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson reportedly had an undeclared interest in his country’s bailed-out banks and is now facing calls for his resignation

:: In China the families of at least eight current and former members of the supreme ruling politburo had been found to have hidden wealth offshore, according to The Guardian

:: Some 23 individuals who had had sanctions imposed on them for supporting the regimes in North Korea, Zimbabwe, Russia, Iran and Syria were said to have been revealed to have been clients of Mossack Fonseca