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TI-UK comments on EU Big Five ‘tax crackdown’

Small but important step forward dressed up as a big step

London, 14th April 2016 – Responding to this evening’s news from Washington that the UK and the other largest EU economies have agreed to automatic sharing of information on secret owners of companies and trusts, Robert Barrington, Executive Director of Transparency International UK, said:

“There was a danger that the true scandal of the Panama Papers about global corruption and illicit financial flows was being lost in the domestic politics over the Prime Minister’s tax affairs.  This is a welcome return to the bigger picture. But it’s a step forward and no more, very much a first stage. 

“While it is important that it covers trusts as well as companies, and the data exchanges will be automatic, nobody in this group apart from the UK has committed to public registers of beneficial ownership which experts agree are critical and has to be the next step. “

“Although they have committed to getting more countries on board, the US is notably absent. The UK’s own weak spot is continued secrecy in the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies, and the announcement strongly increases the pressure on the UK Government to act on its own back yard if it wants others to act.
Once the information has been shared, law enforcement authorities will also needed suitable legal instruments such as Unexplained Wealth Orders, which means that once money or property of suspicious origin has been identified it can be quickly frozen.”

“All eyes will now be on the PM’s Anti-Corruption Summit in May to see whether he can persuade other countries to sign up to transparency, and whether he can move his own Overseas Territories. This announcement is significant because it recognises the big picture of trans-national corruption and illicit financial flows and shows real intent, but it is a very long way from being the end game.”

 

Contact:

Dominic Kavakeb – Communications Manager

Dominic.kavakeb@transparency.org.uk

020 3096 7695

079 6456 0340

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Read 134 times Last modified on Thursday, 14 April 2016 21:29

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