New government rules will force companies registered in tax havens to reveal who their owners are in a bid to clamp down on tax avoidance.

Foreign companies, including many registered in Jersey, the British Virgin Islands and the Isle of Man, invested £244 million in St Albans, Harpenden and Bricket Wood between 1999 and 2014.

The research, compiled by the satirical magazine Private Eye, does not imply any company has avoided paying tax in the UK.

Christian Aid protesters accused the British government of failing to stop “UK tax havens from facilitating” tax avoidance and tax evasion.

Adrian Whalley, Christian Aid representative, said: "We are reminding David Gauke that people around the world are suffering because this government has failed to stop UK tax havens facilitating tax evasion and other serious crimes.

“Fortunately there is a very simple solution. It is to direct the UK tax havens to create public registers of the real owners of the companies they host, just as the UK itself is doing.”

Prime Minister David Cameron announced the government will introduce a public register showing when offshore companies are linked to British companies.

David Gauke, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, explained how some companies might have used the system to reduce the amount of tax they pay.

He said: “If there is a profitable property development, there might be two aspects to it. There might be a company that is offshore and there might be one in the UK with both involved in this process.

“And a lot of the work could be claimed to be performed by the off-shore company, as in applying for planning permission and some of the marketing activities could be done from off-shore.

“They could then argue profits should be attributed to the off-shore company because that is the company that has done the work, rather than the on-shore company, which is maybe doing the stuff that is necessary in the UK, so therefore you would find, if 70 per cent of the profits went to the off-shore entity, the off-shore entity wouldn’t be paying any tax on it.”

Jaffna Properties Limited, based in Jersey, spent £47,345,000 on a warehouse in Ashley Road, St Albans, and BNP Paribas Securities Services Trust Company Limited, also registered in Jersey, spent £18,481,956 on land to the north of Eywood Road. They also bought Verulam Point, Station Way, for £17,7664,934.

ERLP 1 S.A.R.L, registered in Luxembourg spent £43,800,000, on Bricket Wood Management Training Centre and the teaching block and land around the centre.

Harpenden Properties Limited, registered in the British Virgin Islands, splashed out £12,500,000 on Broadway Hall and 29b, 31, 31b and 31c High Street, Harpenden.

Mr Gauke says the changes being introduced by the government will improve the transparency of the UK tax system.

He said: “If foreign companies own property in the UK, then they have to say who they are, who the owners are.

“The purpose of that is to improve transparency, to ensure that money that flows from corruption can’t be used to hold UK property concealed from the rest of the world.

“It will be public and it is all part of a fight against corruption.

“Some of the changes we have made are already bringing in a substantial amount of revenue.”