THERE is only one company called Pentland Limited registered in the UK and it is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Galliford Try, a UK construction company that has nothing to do with the Scott family.

The Pentland Ltd that once loaned the Buccleuch Heritage Trust £749,692 to acquire a da Vinci painting is a company registered in the Cayman Islands, a British Overseas Territory and notorious secrecy jurisdiction. Its registered office is at HSBC International Trustee Ltd, PO Box 484GT, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands. Until recently, Pentland Ltd had no direct links to the Buccleuch Group (the network of companies controlled by Buccleuch Estates Ltd) but was part of a separate network of companies controlled by the Scott family. Pentland was incorporated in Grand Cayman in 1990. By 2009, it had become a subsidiary of Dabton Investments Ltd. In 2013, Dabton was acquired by Tarras Park Properties Ltd, a subsidiary of Buccleuch Estates Ltd. Pentland Ltd (Grand Cayman), Salters Land Ltd (British Virgin Islands) and Drumcork Ltd (British Virgin Islands) are now all subsidiary undertakings, joint ventures and associates of Tarras Park Properties Ltd which is wholly owned by Buccleuch Estates Ltd.

An investigation into the myriad companies associated with Pentland prior to 2013 reveals a series of loans from Pentland Ltd to other companies in the Buccleuch Group. Some of these loans were repaid in full or in part and others were written off in full or in part.

Lending money to UK companies from companies registered in secrecy jurisdictions is one method of bringing offshore money onshore. Writing off such loans means that the money is never repaid.

Being 100 per cent owned by the Buccleuch Group, loans and other related party transactions are now exempt from disclosure under Financial Reporting Standard 8 on related Party Disclosures. It is thus no longer possible to identify the loans being made by Pentland Ltd to other companies in the Buccleuch Group.

Given that Buccleuch Estate Ltd is itself owned by a nominee company of solicitors, could Pentland Ltd be one of the offshore family trusts I was told about in the late 1990s?

Dalkeith Country Park is popularly assumed to be owned by Buccleuch Estates Ltd. But Dalkeith House and surrounding grounds are owned by Buccleuch Heritage Trust. The ownership of the majority of the rest of the country park and neighbouring land was revealed in correspondence entered into between Buccleuch Group, legal firm Anderson Strathern and the Registers of Scotland in relation to the registration of an agricultural tenant’s interest to buy their farm under the Agricultural Holdings (Scotland) Act 2003. The eastern part of the country park is occupied by a tenant of the Home Farm and a further agricultural tenancy exists over Smeaton Farm.

Half of Smeaton Farm was owned in the past by Pentland Ltd, but by 2012, Pentland Ltd had transferred its ownership to a company called Hayes One Ltd, Clifton House, 75 Fort Street, PO Box 1350, Grand Cayman, KY1-1108, Cayman Islands.

In correspondence relating to the Home Farm and Smeaton Farm in 2007, Registers of Scotland (RoS) asked Buccleuch whether Pentland Ltd and Buccleuch Estates Ltd “were connected in any way for example with the same beneficial share ownership and whether the tenant did receive notification of the change of ownership and when this took place”.

In reply, Anderson Strathern wrote to RoS to state that ownership of the Home Farm had transferred from Pentland Ltd to Buccleuch Estates Ltd on November 26, 2002, and this information had not been intimated to the tenant.

The letter said nothing about beneficial ownership, merely “Pentland Ltd is registered in the Cayman Islands and is not part of the Buccleuch Group”. A search in the Register of Sasines and Land Register for “Pentland Ltd” in Midlothian returned no results.

In an article in the Sunday Times on July 21, 2013, John Glen, chief executive of Buccleuch Estates Ltd, said: “It’s my job to run the Buccleuch companies and I can assure anyone that Buccleuch businesses pay tax where they fall due. All trusts linked with Buccleuch are subject to UK tax and all other family-related trusts are resident in the UK and subject to UK tax.”

In the Land Reform (Scotland) Bill debate tomorrow, Patrick Harvie MSP has tabled an amendment that would bar all legal entities registered in British Overseas Territories or Crown Dependencies from registering title to land in Scotland.

I have asked Buccleuch Estates Ltd for further information on the role of Pentland Ltd. At the time of writing, I had heard nothing further.

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