26 July 2016 - The first step in Theresa May’s plan to curb companies’ use of tax havens must be long overdue action against secrecy in tax havens controlled by the UK itself, Christian Aid said today.
Toby Quantrill, Christian Aid’s Principal Adviser on Economic Justice, said: “Theresa May is right to order a crackdown on companies’ use of tax havens.
“Just yesterday, MPs highlighted how the use of UK tax havens had reduced transparency around companies linked to doomed BHS.
“The sad truth is that some of the world's most significant tax havens are actually British Overseas Territories.
“It’s high time Theresa May brought them up to the same standard as the rest of the UK, by making them reveal the real owners of the hundreds of thousands of companies they host.
“This would break open the chest of secrecy that exists in UK tax havens – places including the British Virgin Islands, which featured heavily in both the BHS affair and the Panama Papers.”
Despite an Anti-Corruption Summit earlier this year, the UK’s tax havens are still largely refusing to sign up to the same levels of transparency the UK has adopted.
The secrecy on sale in these places is hurting millions of people in the UK and in developing countries, as has been further illustrated by new revelations from the Panama Papers. They outline details of secret deals being facilitated across Africa via a network of offshore companies.
Mr Quantrill added: “Theresa May could tackle this crisis quite simply through an Order in Council or a Government amendment to the upcoming Criminal Financing Bill.
“MPs’ report yesterday on the BHS scandal highlighted how UK tax havens’ involvement had served to obscure what was really happening within the ultimately doomed business, while also reducing much-needed UK tax revenue.”
The Work and Pensions Committee report detailed the use of various tax havens and stated: “Those [companies] registered offshore are subject to far less demanding tax and transparency requirements.”
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Notes to editors:
1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 40 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.
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