Brent Council plan to sell land to Luxembourg-registered business whose chairman is billionaire Nadhmi Auchi
- Credit: Archant
Brent Council has been slammed for plans to sell public land to an off-shore company in a regeneration deal.
Cabinet members are meeting next week to approve a deal to sell land in Stonebridge, including the Bridge Park Community Leisure Centre, to General Mediterranean Holdings SA (GMH), a Luxembourg-registered business whose chairman Nadhmi Auchi is listed by Forbes as the 854th richest person in the world.
Cllr John Warren, leader of Brent Conservatives, hit out at the plans.
He said: “Why is Brent Council getting involved with company business in tax havens when we are in an era where tax havens are deemed to be unacceptable?
“This is not something councils should be doing. Are they going to Luxembourg to do financial checks to see if the guarantee is worth anything? It’s a complete minefield. It’s risky and speculative, a gigantic risk.
“Why are we even touching it with a barge pole? It sends a terrible message.”
The council would not say how much the deal is worth and the press and public are banned from the cabinet meeting on January 16 where the plans will be discussed.
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In its report to the cabinet, officers recommend going ahead with the deal.
The report says that GMH already owns the Unisys buildings on a parcel of land next to the community centre.
The Conditional Land Sale Agreement (CLSA) will be with a UK-registered subsidiary company still to be formed which has GMH as the parent company and another GMH subsidiary the British Virgin Islands based Harborough Invest Inc as the second guarantor.
A council spokesman said: “The Unisys buildings and the land around it have been an eyesore in Brent for more than two decades.
“If cabinet agree to sell part of the council’s land to the owners of the Unisys buildings this will enable the comprehensive regeneration of the whole area.
“If agreed, this development will create a new state-of-the-art leisure centre, much needed new homes and employment opportunities for Brent residents. This would not be possible through a different developer as General Mediterranean Holdings own the Unisys buildings.”
Mohammed Al-Miqdadi, senior director of international development for GM Holdings, said the land “will be purchased and developed by an English registered company” and that “normal English tax will be payable on the land purchase and any development profit.”