Responding to the UK Government’s announcements at the International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) in Copenhagen today, Christian Aid’s Global Lead on Economic Justice, Toby Quantrill, said:
“Today’s pledges of UK aid to anti-corruption efforts are welcome. Corruption affects everyone but has the biggest impact on the poorest countries who may lose far more from international corruption than they receive in aid.”
“The UK is absolutely right to urge countries to follow the UK's lead and ensure every company registered in their country publicly discloses their real owner. The UK has indeed been a leader on this, but there is further work to do. The UK must ensure that its own register is properly verified and accurate and also ensure that it cleans up its own back yard by fully implementing recently agreed legislation. The UK Parliament ruled earlier this year that the Government has until 2020 to implement public registers revealing the true owners companies across the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and its other Overseas Territories. That deadline is fast approaching and the UK needs to pick up the pace.”
“The UK should also acknowledge that the harm done to poor countries by tax havens (including those we govern) is not limited to overtly criminal activity. Aggressive tax avoidance also robs developing countries of billions of dollars every year, much of which relies on the same system of secrecy and low regulation. All of this activity must be regarded as ‘illicit’ and dealt with in a systematic and coherent way.”
In 2016, the Panama Papers revealed the British Virgin Islands as the top location
for anonymously-owned companies set up by the offshore law firm Mossack Fonseca.