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Press release

01 November 2017

Prime Minister urged to insist on transparency in UK’s Overseas Territories

Responding to the PMQs exchanges between the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition today, Simon Kirkland, Christian Aid’s UK Parliamentary and Political Adviser urged the Prime Minister to set a deadline for the UK’s Overseas Territories to adopt the same transparency mechanisms as the rest of the UK.

“It is true that David Cameron led the world in 2013 by putting tax and transparency at the heart of the G8 agenda. The UK should be proud of introducing a public, central register of beneficial ownership – one of the first major countries in the world to do so. Many other countries are now planning to follow suit, such as Nigeria, Afghanistan, Kenya, South Africa and others.

"David Cameron first implored the UK’s Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies to introduce public registers themselves in 2013. He also wrote to Overseas Territories’ leaders in April 2014. However, by 2015 the government had stopped asking for further transparency from these territories. To date, none has introduced a public register, despite pressure from global civil society and the UK public.

"According to the UN, tax havens cost developing countries at least $100 billion every year. They also facilitate corruption right around the world. For example, North Korea appears to have used shell companies registered in the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla to dodge UN sanctions.

"As was reported in the Daily Telegraph last Wednesday, we know that more leaks are coming. The UK is at the heart of the world of offshore secrecy. The UK Government should reassert its global leadership on this issue by setting a timeline in place by when its Overseas Territories will have public registers of beneficial ownership. If necessary, we should legislate to achieve this. We should also do all we can to persuade our Crown Dependencies to introduce public registers. Only then we will be able to say again that we are leaders in tackling corruption and tax dodging both in the UK and around the world.”

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.

2. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended: this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, sustainably. Our strategy document Partnership for Change explains how we set about this task.

3. Christian Aid is a member of ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development.

4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter @Caid_Newswire

5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid, visit http://www.christianaid.org.uk