George Osborne hails 'groundbreaking' deal to tackle tax dodgers


A new crackdown on international tax dodging will "lift the veil of secrecy" that criminals hide under, Chancellor George Osborne has pledged.

Mr Osborne said a "groundbreaking" international deal to share information on the true owners of companies will make it harder for criminals to channel corrupt gains or evade tax.

Under the move, tax and law enforcement agencies from Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Spain will exchange information regarding beneficial ownership registers, and new registers of trusts, which, the Chancellor says, will allow for better investigation of financial wrongdoing.

Attending a meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington, Mr Osborne hailed the international deal as a breakthrough.

"Today we deal another hammer blow ?against those who hide their illegal tax evasion in the dark corners of the financial system.

"Britain will work with our major European partners ?to find out who really owns the secretive shell companies and trusts that have been used as conduits for evading tax, laundering money and benefiting ?from corruption.

"It was Britain that led the world in pushing for the automatic exchange of personal tax data? and encouraged the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) to develop new rules for taxing multinationals more fairly.

"Since then dozens of other countries have followed our example.

"Now it is Britain and our European partners setting the pace on beneficial ownership transparency of not just companies but also trusts with a tax consequence - and I expect that the rest of the world will move to follow our example again.

"It shows the benefit of working together. No single country can tackle international tax evasion alone - and Britain should never fool itself into thinking that it can do this by itself," Mr Osborne said.

The Chancellor, along with counterparts from Germany, France, Italy and Spain, also wrote to fellow G20 members urging them to build upon the system of European co-operation agreed in order to remove "the veil of secrecy under which criminals operate".

The move follows two weeks of turmoil for the Government during which Mr Osborne joined Prime Minister David Cameron in revealing details of his private finances in the wake of the Panama Papers leak regarding offshore companies.