Saudi Arabia’s wealthiest families have profited at the expense of Britain’s most vulnerable care homes residents, it can be revealed today.

A company run by millionaire Saudi Olympic showjumper Kamal Bahamdan owns HC-One – which, with 265 facilities and bed capacity of 16,116 in England, is the country’s largest care home operator.

HC-One is accused of taking millions out of its subsidised care homes and transferring them to private equity owners in Cayman Islands via a complex business structure.

This is revealed in a BBC Panorama documentary to air tonight. The BBC Panorama documentary details how HC-One, and Four Seasons (another major care provider), are owned by private-equity behemoths that are based in offshore tax havens.

The Daily Mail can also reveal the extent of Saudi Arabian firms’ involvement in the care home crisis, raising questions about how much of residents’ money is going to frontline care.

A company run by millionaire Saudi Olympic showjumper Kamal Bahamdan owns HC-One – which, with 265 facilities and bed capacity of 16,116 in England, is the country’s largest care home operator

A company run by millionaire Saudi Olympic showjumper Kamal Bahamdan owns HC-One – which, with 265 facilities and bed capacity of 16,116 in England, is the country’s largest care home operator

With a growing staffing deficit and increasing costs, the social care system may soon collapse. Residents in England pay the full cost of social care until their assets – including the value of their own home – fall to below £23,250. To pay for care, many people are forced to tap their savings.

In October 2023 a new lifetime care cap of £86,000 will come into force – but the Commons health committee warns help is needed for pensioners before then.

These life-changing amounts are not for Mr Bahamdan (50), who was awarded a bronze medal by the Saudi Arabian showjumping team at London Olympics 2012.

Bahamdan Group is a multinational investment firm that invests in telecommunications, infrastructure, education and retail throughout the Middle East and North Africa. He has held the position of chief executive since 2002. Bahamdan Group is majority owner of HC-One and Safanad Ltd. He is also the founder and chief executive of Safanad Ltd.

On the board of Safanad, Mr Bahamdan rub shoulders with Abdul Kareem Abu Al Nasr, a former chief executive of Saudi Arabia’s National Commercial Bank, and Lubna Olayan – a member of a family ranked by Forbes magazine in 2016 as the wealthiest in the Middle East, with a fortune of over £7.6 billion. 

HC-One stands accused of siphoning off millions from its heavily subsidised care homes to its private equity owners in the Cayman Islands, via a legal yet complicated business structure. Grand Cayman is seen above

HC-One has been accused of siphoning millions from the heavily subventioned care homes it runs to its Cayman Islands private equity owners through a complicated legal business structure. Grand Cayman can be seen in the above image

The Centre for International Corporate Tax Accountability and Research has reported that the HC-One companies have lent money to one another using complex accounting and very high interest rates. 

These high-interest payments reduced taxable profits in the UK and let the company shift money to the Cayman Islands as interest income – where it is tax-free. HC-One emphasizes it pays all tax in the UK.

Jason Ward, principal analyst at CICTAR and author of the report, said: ‘You have the wealthiest families in Saudi Arabia ripping money out of cash-strapped care homes in the UK, while workers and residents are suffering, to make some of the world’s richest people even richer off of the backs of government funding and people’s life savings. An important chunk of [care home costs] is not going to provide care for granny or grandad, it’s going to the Cayman Islands.’

HC-One reached out to local councils in order to receive financial assistance as the pandemic grew. The firm then received £18.9million of taxpayer-funded government support.

HC-One, on behalf of itself, Safanad, the Bahamdan Group and other affiliates, says that its owners ‘are a net-positive contributor to HC-One’. As with all businesses, investors won’t invest money if there isn’t a good return. In private equity, the return can only be recouped after the business has been sold.

Between April 2020 – March 2021 there were 1,618 HC-One facility deaths, which was more than any other operator. The rate of Covid-19 deaths at HC-One facilities in England per bed capacity was 10 per cent – well above the 8.3 per cent average.

Company insists that most of its facilities belong to nursing homes. They also operate primarily in metropolitan areas because this is where virus transmission was the highest.

A spokesman for HC-One said: ‘As a private company that delivers an essential public good, the most important thing for us is to meet the needs of our residents… and to do this we need access to long-term finance so we can invest in our people and homes.

Aunt was ‘fleeced by greedy owners’

The owners of HC-One were condemned as ‘greedy and horrendous’ by the family of a former hospital matron who was forced to sell her home to fund £600,000 in care costs.

Margaret Sarsfield was a dementia sufferer who passed away last year at the age of 95. She lived 12 years in Moss View Care Home, Liverpool.

Miss Sarsfield – who was known as Peggy – paid up to £4,000 per month for the HC-One home. After draining her savings accounts, the former NHS worker had to sell her £130,000 two-bedroom apartment to pay the fees.

Her niece, Ursula Hill, 52, said: ‘She took pride in everything she owned because she worked hard, she was so house proud.’

‘She had her NHS pension, she had her savings. Her care was paid from money she’s worked hard for.’ Mrs Hill added it is ‘heartbreaking’ to think her aunt’s money had been shipped off to the Cayman Islands. She accused HC-One of ‘fleecing’ residents and said the owners were ‘greedy and horrendous’.

Mrs Hill also claimed in the 12 years her aunt lived in the home, her room had only been redecorated once – by the family themselves. ‘We couldn’t believe where her money had gone,’ she added.


‘In the past five years, our owners have enabled us to invest £145million in upgrading our homes, with a further £115million committed by 2022/23. This far exceeds all the cumulative dividends and management fees they have received over the same period – a total of £32 million…’ We have always been UK tax resident, pay full tax in the UK, and file our accounts at Companies House… We do not use our structure to artificially reduce our earnings.’

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt said the CICTAR report exposed ‘the Wild West’ of the current social care landscape.

‘To me, it is the unacceptable face of capitalism, because this is a sector that is under enormous pressure,’ he told Panorama.

‘It is wholly inappropriate given that the purpose of the sector is to look after literally the most vulnerable people in our society… It’s the Wild West out there.’

And Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: ‘Given the intensely vulnerable situation of most of their clients, every care business needs to be able to demonstrate they always stay the right side of the line.’

Private equity companies do not only own HC-One, but many other care providers. Four Seasons Health Care, which was founded in 1990, has been sold three times. The cash trail led to debt that eventually pays for care residents.

Four Seasons was a similar company structure to HC-One. Panorama shows that the company’s last accounts from 2019 revealed 160 distinct firms. Elli Investments Ltd. is the highest-ranking firm, while Fino Senior Co Ltd. is based in Guernsey.

In the same year, Four Seasons Health Care tumbled into administration in 2019 with a £625million debt pile. 

Around 20 per cent of the average weekly care fees goes on to paying Four Seasons’ interest payments. But a spokesman for Four Seasons Health Care said that ‘Our ownership structure does not have any bearing on the day to day care of our residents…’

Three of the biggest care providers, Four Seasons, Care UK and HC-One are owned by private equity firms – providing nearly 39,000 beds between them. A fifth are rated ‘inadequate’ or ‘requiring improvement’ by the CQC.

A Government spokesman said: ‘The UK has led the world in cracking down on global tax abuse, delivering new rules that will help ensure that taxes due are paid irrespective of where in the world the business is based.’

Panorama’s ‘Care in Crisis: Follow the Money’, is on BBC One tonight at 7.35pm.

Additional reporting: Susie Coen