The companies registered in Guernsey, Jersey, the British Virgin Islands and the Isle of Man are revealed to be the biggest overseas buyers of property in East Anglia. Since 2015, offshore firms from these tax havens have spent more than £400 million on property in Norfolk and Suffolk. The real number may be much higher as only one third of the 300 properties sold have a sale price on the Land Registry.
The properties sold in Norfolk and Suffolk counties are prime offices and new homes, as well as industrial estates and shops. Purchasing through offshore firms makes it difficult or even impossible to find out the ultimate owner, and there is a legal loophole allowing the tax to be reduced by thousands of pounds when the property is going on sale. In 2016, the UK law was changed making sure non-UK residents are taxed on profits from dealing with UK properties, but still offshore companies do not pay capital gains tax on commercial property sales.
Norfolk and Suffolk properties bought by the British Virgin Islands companies include Wickes store in Norwich bought for just under £6m in March 2017, by Dakota Properties Limited, and it seems not possible to find who is behind this BVI firm.
Another example is the building in the city centre, a prime retail spot, which was bought for for £2.7m by the BVI-based company Balavan Limited. The registered address of the company is Mossack Fonseca, the Panamanian law firm known for Panama Papers data leak.