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Sun 27 Nov 2011 11:49 AM

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Qatar-linked luxury property falls foul of UK taxes

London’s One Hyde Park in the spotlight after owners fail to pay council taxes

Qatar-linked luxury property falls foul of UK taxes
One Hyde Park, London, the most expensive real estate project in the world

The world’s most expensive real estate project is under investigation after it emerged the majority of owners in the Qatar-backed One Hyde Park development failed to pay council taxes.

Just nine of the 62 apartments in the London development, which is part-owned by Qatar’s prime minister, are registered to pay council tax by Westminster City Council, the Observer reported.

Owners of four of the flats have paid the full tax of 755.60 a year plus £619.64 to city authorities, while five are paying the 50 percent discounted rate owed on a second home, the newspaper said.

Local councils can apply to a magistrate’s court for a warrant to imprison a council tax debtor if they are refusing to pay but have means, the report said.

The cheapest home at the luxury London property would set buyers back £5.75m ($9.2m).

One Hyde Park was launched by great fanfare in January, reportedly breaking world records for the most expensive price per square foot at £6,000. The development, which is owned by Project Grande, a joint venture between CPC Group and the Prime Minister of Qatar’s Waterknights, is touted as one of the most exclusive housing projects in the world.

Perks include 24-hour room service supplied by the Mandarin Oriental hotel, a private cinema, swimming pool and a golf simulator. 

Ownership of the apartments, which are within walking distance of Hyde Park and Harvey Nichols, has been highly secretive since its launch. Candy & Candy, the development manager behind the property, told Arabian Business in February that nearly a quarter of the apartments had been sold to Middle Eastern investors.

“I would say of total sales to date, 20-25 percent [are from the Middle East],” Nick Candy said.

The Prime Minister of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad Bin Jasim Jaber Al-Thani, is said to have paid £135m for a penthouse in the Knightsbridge-based development.

Mohammed Saud Sultan Al Qasimi, head of finance for the government of Sharjah, has reportedly reserved one of the duplex apartments.

The Observer said ownership of 25 apartments is registered in the British Virgin Islands, while other tax havens used to purchase property include Cayman Islands, Liechtenstein and Liberia.

Project Grande denied it was required to provide the identities of the owners.

“Once the apartment is sold, it is not the developer's responsibility to register the new owner with the council. This is the responsibility of the owner,” a spokesperson told the paper.

Mike Hails 7 years ago

Let's get to the point. There are really 2 taxes that are of concern in the UK when buying property. One IS the one mentioned in this article which is Council tax. That is a relatively small tax that is paid to the local council that the property is in. The other larger tax, which many of buyers are One Hyde Park are seeking to avoid by using offshore companies is called "Stamp Duty" .It is this latter one that is being avoided also. Lets me honest, the rich cannot expect to continuing "riding for free" as they have done for decades. The general population will no longer stand for it, and rightly so !!. There are movements starting in UK that will target these rich people and cause them as much grief as possible and hopefully this will spread Worldwide. NO LONGER should the rich think that they can remain rich at the expense of the poorer people who enable those rich people to be rich in the first place !! Without poor people there would be no rich people, that is a fact.

AlexT 7 years ago

GO Mike,
Power to the council estates!!!!!

Matthew Steeples 7 years ago

One Hyde Park, though I'm sure to the taste of many, caused chaos for the locals during construction and looks no better than Bowater House: http://dasteepsspeaks.blogspot.com/2011/11/taxingly-pointless-carbuncle.html

Jezinho 7 years ago

Mike, with respect the article makes no mention of stamp duty avoidance and unless you work for HMRC you would not be privy to such information. In any case, for property of this value (i.e. where transferring value to chattels would not have sufficient impact), stamp duty is unavoidable regardless of domicile of the buyer or whether it is an individual or a company. HMRC has stated as such.

Furthermore, the Stamp Act 1891 provides that documents liable to stamp duty may not be registered or used unless they have been duly stamped. Thus title to the property will not be registered if stamp duty remains unpaid and the owner would certainly not be able to mortgage the property as the lender would required stamped documents.

So whilst your taxation demands are to a certain extent admirable, your rant against stamp duty is something of a red herring.