In the run up to the G8 summit in Belfast, British Prime Minister David Cameron has urged British crown dependencies to get tough on tax evasion. Cameron also proposed a central registry for obscure company owners.
The British premier wants the UK's overseas territories to sign on to an international agreement that would share information on bank account holders in 50 countries, in a bid to crackdown on tax havens.
In an interview with the Guardian newspaper on Saturday, Cameron said that Britain's crown dependencies had moved closer to agreeing to exchange tax information. He said it was important for the exchange of information to be automatic and not just been done on request.
Numerous territories under British jurisdiction have been accused of serving as tax havens. London wants the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Gibraltar, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man to sign the agreement, which was drafted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
Plan to establish central registry
The British prime minister also told the Guardian that his government plans to set up a central registry that lists the owners of companies. The registry would be used by British tax authorities to crackdown on shell corporations, which exist only in name to help businesses avoid paying taxes.
"We need to know more about who owns which company - beneficial ownership - because that is how a lot of people and a lot of companies avoid tax, using secretive companies in secretive locations," Cameron said.
Meanwhile, more than a thousand demonstrators took to the streets of Belfast on Saturday to call on the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized economies to do more to tackle poverty.
The G8 summit is set to begin on Monday in Belfast and run though Tuesday. Cameron has said he wants to return the G8 to its origins as "fireside chats," where world leaders hold intimate informal talks on world issues.
slk/ipj (AFP, dpa, Reuters)