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G8 Summit Urged To Seek Beneficial Ownership Reforms

by Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

11 June 2013

Governments must compile information on the ultimate ownership of companies if they hope to properly enforce the law, a group of public prosecutors and so-called "corruption hunters" has urged ahead of the G8 Summit.

The group, which includes members of the Corruption Hunter Network, the Tax Justice Network, Transparency International, and various judiciary systems, has written to G8 leaders to stress the need for change. Although the letter welcomes the "strong statements" made by David Cameron regarding the anti-avoidance agenda for the UK's Presidency of the G8, it adds that stronger initiatives are required.

In particular, G8 governments "must commit to take action to prevent anonymous companies from being used to hide criminal activity." The letter makes the case for governments "to require existing company registers to collect information on the ultimate owners of all companies."

This information should then be placed in the public domain, in order to have the greatest impact, it claims. According to the letter: "This would help law enforcement change down money launderers, but it will also enable citizens, journalists and civil society to hold companies to account for their actions."

The letter also calls on governments to strengthen their anti-money laundering regimes.

The G8 will meet at Loch Erne in Northern Ireland from June 17-18. High on the agenda is the crackdown on "aggressive" tax planning and evasion, and it is anticipated that attendees will discuss recommendations for the improvement of tax information sharing.

Cameron has said that there is now a genuine opportunity to "break down the walls of corporate secrecy."

TAGS: compliance | tax | tax compliance | Ireland | tax avoidance | law | United Kingdom | enforcement | tax planning | European Union (EU) | Europe

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