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Issue #1731      May 18, 2016

Empire of dirty money

Trafalgar Square became a tropical tax haven last week as bowler-hatted campaigners audaciously flaunted their dollar in an effort to bend visiting global leaders’ minds to the shadowy world of the tax dodger.

A campaigner in bowler-hat lounging in the tropical tax haven of Trafalgar Square.

Charities ActionAid, Christian Aid and Oxfam want the government to live up to its pledge to fight tax-dodging by ensuring that British overseas territories and crown dependencies introduce full public registers of company ownership and profit.

Members of the public joined around 50 charity volunteers to drink cocktails, eat “swindle sundae” and lampoon the perks tax-avoiders enjoy in overseas territories such as the Bahamas, Bermuda and British Virgin Islands while developing countries lose out on at least £117 billion a year that could fund education and healthcare.

But at the anti-corruption summit, Prime Minister David Cameron announced that the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands would not join Britain and 33 other governments in agreeing to share registers of company ownership.

ActionAid head of advocacy Barry Johnston said Mr Cameron had “fallen at the final hurdle” on his pledge, because the Caymans and British Virgins are two of the largest tax havens.

“By failing to bring full transparency to British overseas tax havens the government has fallen short of delivering a crucial commitment it made to tackle tax-dodging and help the poorest people in the world,” he said.

“It’s good news that Nigeria, South Africa, Afghanistan, France and the Netherlands have used the summit to support introducing registers publicly listing the owners of secretive shelf companies.

“However, it’s disappointing that the PM hasn’t managed to get British overseas tax havens to do the same.

“It’s now clear that it will only be a matter of time until they must act.

“Despite the largest tax scandal in history Mr Cameron has failed to get his house fully in order.”

Other measures agreed at the summit include establishing rules to prevent corrupt bidders winning public contracts, preventing money laundering of illicit funds and setting up laws to ensure stolen assets can be recovered.

Morning Star

Next article – Turkey – Freedoms swept aside

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