Thousands of pieces of Scottish land owned by offshore companies
THOUSANDS of pieces of land across Scotland have been snapped up by huge offshore companies – many of which are based in the world’s biggest tax havens.
The revelation has prompted fears that firms owning Scottish land are dodging taxes, or even acting as fronts for laundering money.
In total 2,147 commercial and residential developments in Scotland are owned by companies outside the UK.
And one in five of these companies are headquartered in the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean.
The islands were recently embroiled in a huge tax evasion scandal, and it is now feared that the firms owning huge number of Scottish developments may be using similar tax dodging techniques.
Now experts have backed the claims that businesses owning Scottish land may be using their Island headquarters to “cut down on their tax bill.”
John Christensen, of international research and advocacy group The Tax Justice Network, said the offshore investments of firms such as this “should concern us all.”
He went on: “We’d like to see a full disclosure and a public record of who owns these companies.
“We need extensive reforms across the UK to stop offshore companies buying up our country.
“Many of these offshore companies are run by Brits who use them to cut down on their tax bill.”
Police Scotland have also launched an investigation into the possibility of criminality involved in the offshore ownership of Scottish properties.
In the past criminal enterprises have used offshore companies as a front through which to launder money.
A spokesman said: “We are investigating the use of offshore companies using criminal funds to purchase properties.
“Working with international law enforcement we have been able to identify and trace criminal assets held in offshore companies and tax havens.”
Scottish Conservative chief whip, John Lamont, said: “We cannot have a situation where criminals are hiding their ill-gotten gains right under the noses of Scotland’s communities.”