PM vows to 'sweep away' tax secrecy

David Cameron

David Cameron has promised to "sweep away" tax secrecy in Britain with the introduction of a new central register requiring the true owners of shadowy "shell" companies to be declared to the tax authorities.

In an interview with The Guardian, the Prime Minister said he was determined to put an end to the "secretive companies in secretive locations" which cost billions of pounds in lost tax revenues.
With tax compliance a key issue at next week's G8 summit in Lough Erne, Mr Cameron said he wanted to set an example by clamping down on British accountants and lawyers who use shell companies to conceal the identity of the final beneficiaries.

"We need to know more about who owns which company - beneficial ownership - because that is how a lot of people and a lot of companies avoid tax, using secretive companies in secretive locations," he said.
"The way to sweep away the secrecy and get to the bottom of tax avoidance and tax evasion and cracking down on corruption is to have a register of beneficial ownerships so the tax authorities can see who owns beneficially every company."

Under the proposals, UK-registered companies will have a legal obligation to obtain and hold adequate, accurate and current information on the ultimate owner who benefits from the company.

The information would be entered on a central register that would be maintained by Companies House.

Initially, the information would only be made available in Britain to authorities such as Revenue and Customs, but ministers are to consult on whether it should be made public.

© 2013 Press Association
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