Revealed: Offshore firms buying up Exmouth

PUBLISHED: 07:00 09 January 2018

Stock image - Picture: Thinkstock

Stock image - Picture: Thinkstock

BrianAJackson

Offshore deals: Exmouth bus station, land off The Parade, and the Dinan Way Lidl site were all sold through deals struck by firms registered outside the UK.

Offshore firms in tax havens have spent millions of pounds buying land and property in Exmouth.

Exmouth bus station, land off The Parade, and the Dinan Way Lidl site were all sold through deals struck by companies registered outside the UK.

Buyers can legally dodge paying stamp duty tax when an offshore deal is struck.

In March this year, the Royal Avenue bus station freehold was bought for £4.89million through a sale completed in St Helier, Jersey; the sale price for many of Exmouth’s offshore sales has not been made public.

Exmouth property deals have been struck in Jersey, Guernsey, Germany, Hong Kong and the Bahamas.

The freehold for land lying to the south of The Parade was sold in October 2000 for an undisclosed sum through a deal done in the Bahamas.

The freehold sale of the Lidl site, in Dinan Way, was completed by a corporate firm in Germany in March 2011, for an undisclosed amount.

The Journal has gone back through records dating back to 2008, obtained by Private Eye magazine.

These show that Exmouth Property Developments (Guernsey) Limited, in July 2010, paid £25,000 for 17 Clarence Road in an offshore deal; plus two further properties in Clarence Road and another at 26 Albion Street for undisclosed amounts.

In November 2013 a further offshore sale was completed in Guernsey on a property at Westward Drive, Exmouth.

In February 2004, two £90,000 leasehold deals were struck by Retirement Housing Management Limited, in the Isle of Man, on two flats in Hamilton Court, Salterton Road, plus another flat for undisclosed amount in June 2004.

The company bought a Little Bicton Court property leasehold for an undisclosed amount in September 2005. It was sold to The Capital Appreciation Trust (Isle of Man) PLC for £66,950 four months later on January 31, 2006.

Offshore deals are legal; the Government loses out on stamp duty when the investment is sold on.

Shares in the company are sold to the buyer so the registered owner of the title deeds does not change, swerving stamp duty land tax charges.

Firms can also withhold who is behind the sale so it can be difficult to trace the property or land owner.

Tax expert Richard Ely believes anonymity was the main reason for buying properties through offshore companies.

The deals could mean the identities of land or building owners remain secret; they can be impossible to locate when it comes to planning disputes.

“If we have anonymous companies, we don’t know they will be held to account,” he said.

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