Magazine article Public Finance

UK Tax Haven Secrecy Tackled as Law Amended

Magazine article Public Finance

UK Tax Haven Secrecy Tackled as Law Amended

Article excerpt

The UK government has finally backed plans to crack down on "dirty money" and make tax havens more transparent.

Britain's overseas territories will now have to adopt public registers of company ownership by the end of the decade, following the acceptance of an amendment to the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill, which received royal assent in May.

Labour's Margaret Hodge and Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell had been pushing for an amendment to stem the flow of cash obtained unlawfully or immorally. Previous attempts to amend the bill had been rejected.

Mitchell said during the bill's report stage: "It is now time for the house to assert its authority and nudge the government into the right place."

He declared himself "delighted" that the government accepted a new clause 6, which he said would help "in bearing down on money laundering, corruption, tax evasion, terrorist financing and fraud".

Clause 6 is the requirement to introduce public registers of beneficial ownership for companies that are registered in British overseas territories.

Hodge, who chairs the CIPFA-sponsored All-Party Parliamentary Groups on Responsible Tax, told PF: "Billions of pounds are laundered through the British overseas territories every year.

"They encourage corruption, organised crime, tax evasion and avoidance and are a mechanism for funding terrorism. This is a huge problem.

"Opening the overseas territories to scrutiny and accountability through public registers of beneficial ownership will make a massive difference. …

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