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11,700 firms in VI own UK properties- BBC analysis

- claims it adds to concerns that companies registered in the VI have been used to avoid tax
The Virgin Islands is the official home of companies that own a quarter of property in England and Wales, according to BBC analysis and published on February 13, 2018. Photo: VINO
According to the report published on February 13, 2018, 11, 700 firms registered in the VI owns 23,000 properties in the United Kingdom (UK). Photo: BBC
According to the report published on February 13, 2018, 11, 700 firms registered in the VI owns 23,000 properties in the United Kingdom (UK). Photo: BBC
Julian Willock, a former Permanent Secretary and local businessman, in response to the BBC analysis, said many other companies around the world and in Europe and the United States own large amounts of properties in London, New York and Paris. Photo: VINO/File
Julian Willock, a former Permanent Secretary and local businessman, in response to the BBC analysis, said many other companies around the world and in Europe and the United States own large amounts of properties in London, New York and Paris. Photo: VINO/File
ROAD TOWN, Tortola, VI - As the European countries especially seek to discredit the legitimate financial services industry of the Virgin Islands, often labelling it a 'tax haven', BBC News recently published that it found a quarter of properties in England and Wales are owned by firms registered in the VI.

According to the report published on February 13, 2018, 11, 700 firms registered in the VI own 23,000 properties in the United Kingdom (UK).

"It adds to concerns that companies registered in the British controlled tax havens have been used to avoid tax," said the report published on February 13, 2018.

The findings came from research done on Land Registry data on overseas property ownership.

The report pointed out that as at January 2018, approximately 97,000 properties in the UK are owned by overseas firms.

Following the VI, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man and Hong Kong makes up the top five countries that UK firms own properties.

VI Gov't refute 'tax haven' claims

Meanwhile, according to the report, the Government of the Virgin Islands has denied the claims that the VI is a 'tax haven' jurisdiction, adding that there are a number of practical reasons why the UK properties might be owned by companies in the VI.

"It (VI government) argued that BVI companies can bring together multiple investors and owners, which is useful for big commercial property deals that have investors in more than one country," said the report.

'Be careful'

Julian Willock, a former Permanent Secretary and local businessman, who often speaks to the international community on the Territory's Financial Services sector, in an invited comment, warned that "while this may look good for us on the surface and demonstrates our international business relevance, we still must be careful that they are not setting up another narrative to label us and make yet another case for open registry so all owners could be public."

Mr Willock, the young political aspirant, stated "Many other companies around the world and in Europe and the United States own large amounts of properties in London, New York and Paris."

See link to report:

http://www.bbc.com/news/business-42666274

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