A undercover sting has exposed how offshore companies can be used legally to save millions of pounds of stamp duty on the UK’s most expensive properties.
A secret film obtained by The Guardian shows an agent from property develop Oakmayne Properties explaining how a £27 million house can be bought legally using an Isle of Man-based special purpose vehicle (SPV), understood to be instrumental in avoiding stamp duty.
Oakmayne bought the leasehold for properties on London’s Cornwall Terrace from the Crown Estate and redeveloped them into luxury properties.
The paper said Oakmayne bought several of the houses using SPVs. Stamp duty on a house of £27 million would be worth around £1.35 million.
The footage was commissioned by nightclub Ministry of Sound which is in a planning dispute with Oakmayne.
Stamp duty can be avoided if the purchaser buys through a SPV rather than the property direct. As the SPV is offshore there is no record in the UK, on the Land Registry, that the property has changed hands and therefore no charge.