EVICTED BY GREED: Global Finance, Housing & Resistance
EVICTED BY GREED investigates how speculative finance drives the global and local housing crisis, and gathers experts & activists from around the world to share and find counter-strategies.
The conference on May 29-31 highlights how speculators and real estate investors use strategic loopholes to disrupt housing in Germany and worldwide, as a follow up of the conference DARK HAVENS, which was organised in partnership with Transparency International in April 2019.
Inspired by the Süddeutsche Zeitung investigation on the Paradise Papers, the huge record that documents worldwide cases of tax avoidance and evasion, we decided to dig into the matter of tax heavens in the real estate business, broadening up the scope on how global investors fuel the rental market in Germany and internationally, and on the countermeasures adopted by the civic society.
The Paradise Papers investigation reported that the Phönix Spree offshore company, based in the British Channel Island of Jersey, controls about 2.000 apartments in Berlin extracting profits that are not taxed (2.392 units in 2018). One of the loopholes real estate investors use is acquiring shares in a company that owns the apartments rather than the apartments themselves. Through this one loophole the city of Berlin loses around 100 millions € of real estate transfer tax according to estimates. But they also lose control over who finally owns the city. As a consequence of such process, the real estate market in our cities is disrupted while the everyday lives of local neighbourhoods are negatively affected.
As pointed out by keynote speaker Christoph Trautvetter, “Because the regional real estate registers don’t contain any information on beneficial owners and there is no good and reliable tool to link legal and beneficial owners both the city and its tenants know very little about who owns their homes. As a new study to be presented at the conference shows – nearly half of the investors remain anonymous and no one can tell how much dirty money hides behind their anonymous investments”.
Since some years, investors from the international capital market have heavily entered into Berlin’s residential and commercial property: Deutsche Wohnen owns 111.500 apartments in Berlin and Vonovia 41.943, via institutional investors such as BlackRock; Akelius, founded by a Swedish millionaire, owns 13.817 apartments having as shareholder a foundation in the Bahamas. Additionally, the Pears family owns 6.000 apartments and the investment fund Blackstone approx. 5.000; Carlyle, Optimum Evolution and Phönix own somewhere below 3.000 (source).
Are such investments an unstoppable wave or is it possible to reach better policy measures and greater transparency?
EVICTED BY GREED aims to raise awareness on the matter of real estate speculation, inviting experts to share data and investigations, as well as discuss best practices and concrete solutions that are possible in the context of tax avoidance of offshore companies in the real estate market.
“Housing is a human rights issue”, stated Leilani Farha, UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, our keynote on May 30. Inviting policy makers, activists and human rights advocates we aim to imagine possible interventions, actions and countermeasures to the influence of global finance on real estate, as well as produce literacy about housing eviction and wealth asymmetries.
The full programme can be found on the Evicted by Greed website.
Friday, May 29 · 2020
16:00—17:45 · KEYNOTE · Anonymous & Aggressive Investors: Who owns Berlin & Barcelona?
Christoph Trautvetter (Public Policy Expert, Netzwerk Steuergerechtigkeit / Wem gehört Berlin, DE). Manuel Gabarre de Sus (Lawyer and Activist, Observatory Against Economical Crime. ES). Moderated by Eka Rostomashvili (Advocacy and Campaigns Coordinator at Transparency International, GE/DE).
18:15—19:45 · PANEL · Foggy Properties & Golden Sands: Money Laundering in London & Dubai
Sam Leon (Data Investigations Lead at Global Witness, UK). Karina Shedrofsky (Dubai’s Golden Sands investigation, Head of OCCRP’s research team, BIH). Moderated by Rima Sghaier (Outreach & Research Fellow, Hermes Center for Transparency and Digital Human Rights, TUN/IT).
20:15—21:00 · LIVE CONVERSATION · PUSH – The Film
With Fredrik Gertten (Film Director, SE) and Leilani Farha (UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, PS/CA) – Excerpts & live conversation.
The film screening of “PUSH – The Film” is planned on July 30, 2020 at ACUD Macht Neu in Berlin (outdoor yard).
Saturday, May 30 · 2020
15:45—16:30 · TALK · Expropriate Deutsche Wohnen & Co!
Volkan Sayman (Sociologist, Deutsche Wohnen & Co Enteignen, DE). Moderated by Ela Kagel(Supermarkt Berlin, DE).
17:00—18:30 · KEYNOTE · The Human Rights Solution: Tackling the housing crisis
Leilani Farha (UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, PS/CA). In conversation with Justus von Daniels (CORRECTIV / Wem gehört Berlin, DE).
19:00-21:00 · PANEL · Resisting Speculation: Ecological Commons, Subvertising & Fighting Tech Domination
Marco Clausen (Co-founder Prinzessinnengarten, DE), Yonatan Miller (Tech Workers Coalition, Berlin vs. Amazon, US/DE), StealThisPoster (subvertising collective IT/UK), Moderated by Iva Čukić (Co-founder & Coordinator, Ministry of Space, SRB).
The 19th conference of the Disruption Network Lab
Partner Venues: Kunstraum Kreuzberg/Bethanien, ACUD Macht Neu, SUPERMARKT Berlin.
Curated by Tatiana Bazzichelli. In cooperation with: Transparency International.
Funded by: Senatsverwaltung für Kultur und Europa (Senate Department for Culture and Europa, Berlin), Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, The Reva and David Logan Foundation (grant provided by NEO Philanthropy), Checkpoint Charlie Foundation.
Supported [in part] by a grant from the Foundation Open Society Institute in cooperation with the OSIFE of the Open Society Foundations.
Part of Re-Imagine Europe, co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.
In partnership with: Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, Guerrilla Foundation.
Knowledge partner: Netzwerk Steuergerechtigkeit Deutschland, HERMES Center for Transparency and Digital Human Rights.
Media Partners: taz, die tageszeitung, ExBerliner, Furtherfield.
Photo Courtesy of the organisation