€22 billion worth of Dutch property is held by offshore firms
The value of Dutch real estate and building land in the hands of offshore companies has gone up almost six fold in the past nine years, according to research by the NRC, Groen Amsterdammer magazine and expertise centre Offshore Kenniscentrum.
In total, these entities currently own or finance nearly €22 billion worth of Dutch property, compared with €3.8 billion in 2013.
The property – almost 15,000 separate units – has been bought or financed by 1,196 different companies, the NRC said in its report. Luxemburg, the Virgin Islands and Jersey are among the popular locations where Dutch real estate is being held.
The researchers were only able to trace the ownership of a small fraction of the property owned by offshore firms via the Dutch land registry system Kadaster.
The real estate, the bulk of which is in Amsterdam, could be linked back to sports men, people listed in the Quote 500 rich list and rich Americans and Russians, but much of the ownership is obscure, the NRC said.
‘The research shows just how easy it is to buy property in the Netherlands without revealing who the real owner is,’ the paper said.
Joras Ferwerda, an expert in money laundering and lecturer at Utrecht University, told the paper that the rapid rise in house prices has made the real estate market more attractive for money launderers.
‘Huge profits arouse less suspicion than 10 years ago,’ he said. ‘Real estate is a logical combination for criminals: you can easily separate financier, owner and user from each other.’
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