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Gulf regimes own $1.2bn in UK property through tax havens

January 30, 2023 at 2:29 pm

The Shard was developed by State of Qatar, which owns 95% share. [Ollie Craig, Pexels]

The royal families of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar, as well as Jordan, own more than £1 billion ($1.2bn) worth of property in Britain through offshore tax havens such as Jersey and the British Virgin Islands, the Guardian has revealed.

The combined portfolio has nearly 200 properties, including hotels, mansions and country estates, belonging to at least one member of the ruling families of the four Gulf states and the Hashemite Kingdom. Holding properties through offshore companies is legal in Britain, but a law was passed last year demanding that individuals should declare ownership through such structures with Companies House by tomorrow, 31 January 2023.

Read: Jordan king’s secret property empire exposed in global financial scandal

Gulf royals who hold assets through offshore entities include Sheikh Mansour, the owner of Manchester City Football Club, members of the Saudi ruling family, and the ruling Al-Thani family in Qatar. Billions of pounds’ worth of assets are held by these three ruling families in the UK, which dwarfs the amount they own through offshore companies.

A £150m ($185m) Surrey estate owned by Mansour’s wife, Sheikha Manal Bint Mohammed Al-Maktoum, is one of the most expensive properties purchased through an offshore company. Mansour himself is said to own 17 other land titles through Jersey, including a London apartment and land connected to urban developments in Manchester.

Among the assets held by the Saudis via offshore entities is The Holme, a lakeside manor in the middle of London’s Regent’s Park, built in 1818. The property is registered to a Guernsey-based entity whose beneficial owners include Abdullah Bin Khalid Al-Saud, the kingdom’s representative at the UN. The brother of Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, Turki Bin Salman, owns 18 properties in London purchased through a company in the British Virgin Islands.