Just Who Owns What In Central London?
Ever wondered who owns what in London? So often do we roam around this city, marvelling at its architecture from the old to the new, and envy the nameless soul who dwells within its walls. Well BBC reporter Olga Smirnova, was invited on a “rather unusual tour of London” was offered an insight into the list of extremely fortunate owners of London’s most exclusive homes.
Of these luxury homes, many are often purchased through offshore companies. With statistics showing that 9.3% of these are in Westminster, 7.3% in Kensington and Chelsea and 4.5% in the City of London. This means that one in ten properties are owned by anonymous offshore companies and can not be directly associated with a specific owner.
Whilst it is completely legal to purchase properties this way, many individuals and companies are objecting to it as they believe it’s an easy way for ‘wealthy foreigners to "launder" money and evade taxes.’
The tour then sees Smirnova divert to Belgrave Square, which has recently acquired a new name, "Red Square", thanks to wealthy investors from former Soviet states moving in. Tour guide Mark Hollingsworth says "Like a lot of foreign billionaires [oligarchs] have this bizarre view that Britain is run by the royal family and the House of Lords”.
It then culminates in Highgate at Witanhurst House, an estate that is second in size to Buckingham Palace and apparently owned by a Russian oligarch.
Smirnova’s tour gives great insight into the world of luxury properties, the advantages and disadvantages, and you can read it in greater depth here.