Offshore firms snap up £150bn of UK property over the past 15 years: Figure is almost as much as welfare and defence budgets combined
- In one London street, 149 homes are owned by firms based in tax havens
- Lancaster Gate is street with largest number bought by off-shore firms
- David Cameron has vowed to expose the 'anonymous shell companies' being used to buy luxury properties, some of them with 'plundered cash'
Offshore companies have bought more than £150billion worth of property in England and Wales over the past 15 years, analysis has revealed.
The figure is almost as much as this year's welfare and defence budgets combined, with Land Registry data showing that many of the UK's most expensive buildings have been snapped up.
In one central London street, 149 homes are owned by firms based in tax havens, bought for a total of £563million.
On a nearby road, 101 properties bought by companies based off-shore cost £348million.
London's Lancaster Gate (pictured) is the street with the largest number of residential properties bought by off-shore firms, with homes selling there for more than £20million
The research came from analysis of 96,440 transactions by 35,922 companies registered by the Land Registry in the past 15 years. The Office for National Statistics said 73 per cent of the value of the deals related to residential premises.
The use of firms based in tax havens such as the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands (BVI) to buy property extended far beyond London.
In Maidenhead, Berkshire, offshore companies have spent more than £350million since 1999.
In one example, a hotel was bought by a firm based in the BVI for £6.4million last January, while a luxury house next to the Thames was bought for £1.3 million.
Meanwhile, in Bristol, almost £250million was spent on 146 properties in a single postcode area between 1999 and 2014.
Over the same period, more than £200million was spent on 152 properties in two postcode areas in Cardiff and £323million on 87 properties in one postcode area of Canterbury in Kent.
London's Lancaster Gate is the street with the largest number of residential properties bought by off-shore firms, with homes selling there for more than £20million.
David Cameron has vowed to expose the 'anonymous shell companies' being used to buy luxury properties, some of them with 'plundered cash'
The 149 properties sold on that street for a total of £563million are now likely to be worth much more. The £150billion figure is also likely to be a significant underestimate because the Land Registry data did not record a price for 34 per cent of transactions involving foreign companies since 1999.
The research comes after David Cameron vowed in a speech to expose the 'anonymous shell companies' being used to buy luxury properties, some of them 'with plundered or laundered cash'.
There is no suggestion that any of the properties mentioned were bought by such companies.
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