Ahead of the G8 summit, which starts today, David Cameron has announced agreements with all 10 of Britain’s overseas territories and crown dependencies to sign up to a new clampdown on tax evasion according to Harris & Co accountants Northampton who offer accountancy services to small and medium sized bsuinesses.
Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Gibraltar, Anguilla, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos Islands, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man have all signed up to international protocols on information sharing. They have also said they will help draw up a plan for a proposed register of companies, designed to increase transparency of beneficial ownership so that it is easier to trace the true ownership of shell companies.
The announcement was made at the ‘Open for Growth’ pre-summit event covering tax, trade and transparency which was held in London and hosted by the prime minister and deputy prime minister.
Prior to the event, the government announced it will introduce new rules requiring companies to obtain and hold information on who owns and controls them. This information is to be held in a central registry maintained by Companies House, where it will be accessible to law enforcement agencies and tax authorities.
The prime minister said the new rules are being put in place to combat the current lack of clarity about who really owns, controls and benefits from companies. This will make it harder to launder money, evade and avoid tax, finance terrorism, bribe officials, hide stolen assets and evade financial sanctions.
A consultation on the design of the new rules, including whether the register of beneficial ownership should be publicly available, will be published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) later in the summer.
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, said: ‘A company should know who ultimately owns or controls it - its beneficial owners - and it is essential that law enforcement and tax authorities have access to that information. These commitments demonstrate the concrete action we are taking ourselves but it is vital that we take collective international action through the G8 to tackle the international challenges of tax evasion, money laundering and illicit finance.’
Earlier this year David Cameron identified tax as one of the three areas he wants to concentrate on during the UK’s presidency of the G8 - alongside trade and transparency.