Newspaper article International New York Times

Leaders Vow to Combat Financial Corruption

Newspaper article International New York Times

Leaders Vow to Combat Financial Corruption

Article excerpt

Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain announced a plan to clamp down on money laundering in his own country.

Just over a month after the Panama Papers revealed vast stores of hidden offshore wealth around the world, leaders from Britain, the United States and other nations vowed on Thursday to cooperate on developing sweeping measures against financial corruption.

At a conference in London, Britain's prime minister, David Cameron, announced a plan to clamp down on money laundering in his own country.

Mr. Cameron put forth proposals to make offshore companies that buy property in Britain reveal their true ownership, forcing those that hide behind complex financial structures to accept transparency. The same provisions would apply to firms that already own property in the country and to those bidding for British government contracts.

In practical terms, that would mean that companies buying or owning British property, or hoping to win state contracts, would first have to supply information on "beneficial" -- that is, real -- ownership to a new public register.

Foreign companies own around 100,000 properties in England and Wales, more than 44,000 of which are in London, according to the British government.

Secretary of State John Kerry, representing the United States, used frank and angry language to condemn financial corruption as a threat to democracy.

"I've been shocked by the degree to which I find corruption pandemic in the world today," he said at the conference, which was held at Lancaster House, a mansion used by the Foreign Office.

The hiding of assets from the tax authorities harms people around the world, by depriving governments of the resources they need to provide health care, build schools and invest in infrastructure, Mr. Kerry said.

Mr. Cameron said he hoped that collaboration among nations would overcome resistance to greater transparency. Some advocates, however, have asserted that nations like Britain and the United States need to go even further in cracking down on tax havens within their own borders. …

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