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Transparency a double edged sword

Today we completed on a pub in Ealing Road called The Plough; it’s the first time I have seen it as it was purchased for the site value only, and we have no intention of running it as a going concern. We were lucky enough to acquire the next door site as well; only after someone approached us claiming to own the site, which he didn’t. He was in the middle of trying to purchase the site, as soon as we found out we snatched the deal from underneath him.

So now we own both sites adjacent to each other and we’re currently exploring options. This is a planning game, and a planning gain hopefully too.

The building is actually very nice and has a lot of character, as well many original pieces. It will be a shame to demolish it, but they say you shouldn’t fall in love with your product! And there’s a bigger agenda at play here to focus on.

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The area is earmarked for development, but the council being the council could stick in opposition claiming for example that the pub is required for community use. It would then need to be marketed for rental, if there were no takers for typically 12 months then they may concede and agree to allow development.  We are not currently envisioning this as everything behind this property has been built up to 10 stories high. The aim even from the council is to push the skyline high in this area.

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But you never know what to expect fully when you go for planning. It’s something not in your hands, it’s down to policies and how individuals interpret and apply them. However if they insist you need to have a pub in the area you can always try and apply for a demolition license and destroy it!  After all it is your property and not theirs.

On another topic, recently there has been much press about how London property should not be a home for laundered cash. I think the sub text is it should not be allowed because we cannot get a piece of the action. It is true there is much money flowing into London property from overseas, and many are bought in companies with several layers over them to protect the ultimate beneficial owners. It has been claimed 100,000 properties in the UK are owned by overseas companies, with roughly 1/3 of these in London. It is well known that the way to get cash from India, say from the sale of land, is to route it through Dubai after which it can end up in a UK bank account ready to invest in property. To call this money ‘proceeds of crime’ isn’t appropriate as it has not necessarily been derived from criminal activity, in an economy like India where most business done is in unincorporated businesses, meaning unofficial setups, it is not unusual for business to be conducted with hard cash. An example of this is the so called ‘slum’ area in Mumbai called Dharavi, which generates $1bn per annum.

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There is a call for greater transparency of where the source of the funds come from. However by the same token it is only fair we get to know where the money the Bank of England prints is coming from and who controls it.

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However to ask such a question is not so easy, on the 6th April 1977 the Bank of England formed the BANK OF ENGLAND NOMINEES LIMITED, (BOEN), a wholly owned subsidiary private limited company, no: 1307478.  Its Memorandum & Articles of Association’s objectives are:

“To act as Nominee or agent or attorney either solely or jointly with others, for any person or persons, partnership, company, corporation, government, state, organisation, sovereign, province, authority, or public body, or any group or association of them….”

The question was asked to Melanie Johnson, Minister for the Treasury, as to why the secrecy, the answer given was “BOEN is a wholly owned subsidiary of BOE, which was granted an exemption by the Minister of State for Trade from the disclosure requirements under Section 27(9) of the Companies Act 1976, because it was considered undesirable that the disclosure requirements should apply to certain categories of shareholders”.

Which is not really an answer, especially for a ‘public’ company. I guess it’s the same with Public schools, they’re not really public they’re private.

The Bank of England with its Royal Charter Status and Official Secrets Act, has more confidentiality and security than the MoD and shockingly is even immune from questions being asked in the House of Commons. So why form a wholly owned ‘NOMINEE’ Company which in 23 years HAS NEVER TRADED and only lodges ‘Short Form’ un-audited accounts?

It has been alleged that The Bank of England was sometime after 1977 effectively ‘Privatised’, its shares being held in BOEN, thereby making a ‘closed loop’ , i.e. although BOEN is a wholly owned subsidiary of BOE, BOEN has effective control of BOE through the said shares owned by the secret shareholders.

This was further confirmed to me on a recent visit to Bengaluru where I had the privilege of hearing Prof R. Vaidyanathan, a true master. Titles and modern education do not impress me, mostly they generate clones who repeat the same verbiage they have been taught, but this man’s speech was genius, original and witty.

One of his claims was that India will be affected very little by the issues created by the West, because the Indian economy is not based on credit. He estimates more than 40% of the national income is generated by unincorporated or non-corporate entities. Due to this they can save by putting money in the bank but they are unable to borrow.

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He showed through his presentations that the West likes to make the problems they create into world problems, including wars and the current financial issues – they have been engineered by the West.

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I got to speak to him afterwards and he confirmed to me the central banks in the West are privately owned and not publicly owned as most people are under the illusion of. He did assure me this is not the case with the Reserve Bank of India.

All of this fuels the case, true wealth should not be measured with how much is held in cash, but instead it should be measured in tangible goods, such as property or gold.

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Suresh Vagjiani

Sow & Reap

A Property Investment Company

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!Tips of the Week

Try to get a good quality tenant with a steady, well-paid job. Not only will they be able to pay the rent on time, but they are more likely to stay for more than a year, reducing the frequency of finding replacement tenants.

To determine if anything is a good investment, you should look at the risk versus return factor. Generally if an investment is high risk it is high return and low risk means low returns. Property is considered low risk, hence the banks will lend you 75%, BUT you can make high returns, if done well.

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