February 20, 2024

UK: Hodge demands clean up of UK’s tax havens [Cayman Islands]

From economia

Margaret Hodge has received the support of 80 MPs from eight different parties in calling on the government to enforce public registers of beneficial ownership in the UK’s tax havens in order to improve tax transparency

The former chair of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) will table an amendment to the criminal finances bill on Tuesday that would force the UK’s overseas territories, including the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands, to adopt the same transparency standards as the rest of the UK by 2020.

The amendment would force the UK’s overseas territories to publically disclose who owns what company in their jurisdiction, in an effort to stamp out tax evasion and money laundering. It would also shine a light on who owns the assets hidden across the world.

Transparency International estimates that as much as $32trn (£26trn) may be hidden away in tax havens worldwide. The British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands are considered some of the world’s most notorious tax havens.

Hodge said in a statement that she finds it “astonishing” that the criminal finances bill, which was published in an effort to tackle corruption, does not even mention the UK’s secret jurisdictions.

“The MPs supporting my amendment are saying that the government can’t possibly claim to be tackling corruption without getting a grip on the tax havens that are under the UK’s umbrella which facilitate all kinds of corruption and tax avoidance and evasion right across the world,” she said.

“Over half of the corporate entities exposed by the Panama Papers were registered in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). The UK is at the centre of a global web of tax havens which are costing UK taxpayers and developing countries huge sums of money,” she added.

The UN Conference on Trade and Development estimates that tax havens cost developing countries at least $100bn a year in lost revenue, while the OECD has previously said that tax havens may be costing developing countries up to three times the global aid budget.

Hodge added, “David Cameron asked the UK’s overseas territories to consider adopting the same level of transparency as the rest of the UK over three years ago. Since then we have seen dither from the UK and delay from our overseas territories.

“Our amendment would ensure that our overseas territories are given a clear time frame in which they need to agree the transparency which is vital to tackle corruption. Giving overseas territories three years to prepare for change is reasonable and the government can and should provide the necessary support to the overseas territories so that they can adjust their economies.

“Britain should as David Cameron said lead by example and not allow the Overseas Territories to be the last kids on the block,” she added.

Senior MPs from seven parties, including Andrew Mitchell (Conservative), the DUP’s Westminster leader Nigel Dodds, Labour’s former deputy leader Harriet Harman, current PAC chair Meg Hillier, the SNP’s Brexit spokesman Calum Kerr, the Liberal Democrats’ foreign affairs spokesman Tom Brake and the Green party MP Caroline Lucas, have supported the amendment.

Mitchell, the former international development secretary said, “I hope this amendment will help the UK government to persuade the overseas territories to adopt the same level of transparency as the UK. This is so important for people in developing countries who are losing out due to tax dodging.

Mitchell encouraged other Conservative MPs to support the amendment, adding, “I hope the government will support it and ensure transparency in our overseas territories.”

Transparency International, Christian Aid, Save the Children, Global Witness, ActionAid, and Oxfam have also expressed their support of the amendment.

It will be debated in the House of Commons early in the New Year.

For more on this story go to: http://economia.icaew.com/en/news/december-2016/hodge-demands-clean-up-of-uks-tax-havens

IMAGE: Dame Margaret Eve Hodge, Lady Hodge, DBE Wikipedia

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