“UK minister rebuffs call to make tax havens reveal company owners”

“…The shadow foreign minister Helen Goodman said the investigations had exposed the inadequacy of a system whereby beneficial ownership data was only accessible to regulators.

The foreign minister Alan Duncan, however, said the government would only pressure the territories to adopt new transparency measures when they became a global standard, and insisted that an EU commitment to introduce public registers did not meet that threshold.

Criticism was directed at Appleby, the offshore law firm at the heart of the Paradise Papers, for bringing legal action against the Guardian and the BBC over their reporting.

The shadow Treasury minister Anneliese Dodds criticised the government for failing to “defend publicly the journalists who were singled out by Appleby” and asked it to affirm that the reports were in the public interest.

Appleby has said a hacker had stolen its files and argued that none of the journalistic disclosures were in the public interest. It has demanded damages and asked the court to permanently ban both media organisations from using its leaked files to investigate its conduct or that of its clients.

Earlier this month the European parliament announced an inquiry into financial crime, tax evasion and tax avoidance, including measures to circumvent VAT on private jets facilitated by Appleby.”


One thought on ““UK minister rebuffs call to make tax havens reveal company owners”

  1. My own belief is that introducing transparency on Beneficial Ownership is a really, really bad idea because:

    1. It will completely ruin the Conservative Party policy of making Britain a low-tax, low-wage economy by driving away tax exiles who like to live and invest here because we allow them to keep their Beneficial Ownership secret.

    2. It would force Conservative Party donors to declare their Beneficial Ownership and drive away the very people that the Party depends upon for funding to survive, and if the Party had to find another source of funding from the many not the few that would be a disaster.

    3. It would create a risky environment for MPs who would have to declare their Beneficial Ownership on their Register of Interests, whereas at the moment they can omit this information safe in the knowledge that it will never become public. If we make the role of MP risky like this, then we will drive away talented people from standing as MPs.

    4. If Britain adopted a policy of transparency on Beneficial Ownership before other countries, that would demonstrate global leadership, and that would damage our “special” relationship with President Trump which relies on us letting him show the world that he is the global leader (with the biggest red button – we have a big red button too, but due to defence cuts it isn’t connected to anything). Besides which, if we declare that we will become transparent only when the rest of the world is transparent also, then we can be reasonably certain that we will never need to actually do it because there will always be one or two dictatorships where this doesn’t happen that we can use as an excuse … sorry I mean “reason” … not to do it (see points 1-3).

    Besides which our greatest ally, President Trump, has already demonstrated his desire to avoid transparency on Beneficial Ownership by refusing to make public his tax returns, and we can therefore rely on him to act in his own self-interest (something that the Conservative Party can never be accused of). If the USA won’t do it, then why should we? It’s not as if transparency is an issue of morality or democracy?

    So, as I said, it’s a really, really bad idea. Bad. Very bad. Really bad. Really, really bad idea. (I must go and tweet this.)


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