Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 6 May 2015

G8 summit: World leaders reach deal on tackling tax avoidance and money laundering

ENNISKILLEN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 18:  Leaders (L-R) President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russia's President Vladimir Putin, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, US President Barack Obama, French President Francois Hollande, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta and European Council President Herman Van Rumpuy, stand for the 'family' group photograph at the G8 venue of Lough Erne on June 18, 2013 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The two day G8 summit, hosted by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, is being held in Northern Ireland for the first time. Leaders from the G8 nations have gathered to discuss numerous topics with the situation in Syria expected to dominate the talks.  (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
ENNISKILLEN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 18: Leaders (L-R) President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russia's President Vladimir Putin, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, US President Barack Obama, French President Francois Hollande, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta and European Council President Herman Van Rumpuy, stand for the 'family' group photograph at the G8 venue of Lough Erne on June 18, 2013 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The two day G8 summit, hosted by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, is being held in Northern Ireland for the first time. Leaders from the G8 nations have gathered to discuss numerous topics with the situation in Syria expected to dominate the talks. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
Prime Minister David Cameron walks to lunch with US President Barack Obama and Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny (right) during the G8 Summit on Lough Erne near Enniskillen
ENNISKILLEN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 18: Leaders (L-R) German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russia's President Vladimir Putin, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, US President Barack Obama, and French President Francois Hollande, stand for the 'family' group photograph at the G8 venue of Lough Erne on June 18, 2013 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The two day G8 summit, hosted by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, is being held in Northern Ireland for the first time. Leaders from the G8 nations have gathered to discuss numerous topics with the situation in Syria expected to dominate the talks. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
ENNISKILLEN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 18: Leaders (L-R) Russia's President Vladimir Putin, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, US President Barack Obama stand for the 'family' group photograph at the G8 venue of Lough Erne on June 18, 2013 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The two day G8 summit, hosted by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, is being held in Northern Ireland for the first time. Leaders from the G8 nations have gathered to discuss numerous topics with the situation in Syria expected to dominate the talks. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
ENNISKILLEN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 18: US President Barack Obama (R) talks with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper following the 'family' group photograph at the G8 venue of Lough Erne on June 18, 2013 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The two day G8 summit, hosted by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, is being held in Northern Ireland for the first time. Leaders from the G8 nations have gathered to discuss numerous topics with the situation in Syria expected to dominate the talks. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
ENNISKILLEN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 18: (L-R) President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russia's President Vladimir Putin, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, US President Barack Obama, French President Francois Hollande, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta and European Council President Herman Van Rumpuy, arrive for the 'family' group photograph at the G8 venue of Lough Erne on June 18, 2013 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The two day G8 summit, hosted by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, is being held in Northern Ireland for the first time. Leaders from the G8 nations have gathered to discuss numerous topics with the situation in Syria expected to dominate the talks. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
ENNISKILLEN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 18: Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, turns and laughs following the 'family' group photograph at the G8 venue of Lough Erne on June 18, 2013 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The two day G8 summit, hosted by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, is being held in Northern Ireland for the first time. Leaders from the G8 nations have gathered to discuss numerous topics with the situation in Syria expected to dominate the talks. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
ENNISKILLEN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 18: Leaders (L-R) President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russia's President Vladimir Putin, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, US President Barack Obama, French President Francois Hollande, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta and European Council President Herman Van Rumpuy, walk back into the hotel following the 'family' group photograph at the G8 venue of Lough Erne on June 18, 2013 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The two day G8 summit, hosted by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, is being held in Northern Ireland for the first time. Leaders from the G8 nations have gathered to discuss numerous topics with the situation in Syria expected to dominate the talks. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
ENNISKILLEN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 18: Leaders (L-R) Russia's President Vladimir Putin, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, and US President Barack Obama stand for the 'family' group photograph at the G8 venue of Lough Erne on June 18, 2013 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The two day G8 summit, hosted by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, is being held in Northern Ireland for the first time. Leaders from the G8 nations have gathered to discuss numerous topics with the situation in Syria expected to dominate the talks. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
ENNISKILLEN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 18: Leaders Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, US and President Barack Obama stand for the 'family' group photograph at the G8 venue of Lough Erne on June 18, 2013 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The two day G8 summit, hosted by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, is being held in Northern Ireland for the first time. Leaders from the G8 nations have gathered to discuss numerous topics with the situation in Syria expected to dominate the talks. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
ENNISKILLEN, NORTHERN IRELAND - JUNE 18: Leaders (L-R) President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russia's President Vladimir Putin, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, US President Barack Obama, French President Francois Hollande, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta and European Council President Herman Van Rumpuy, arrive for the 'family' group photograph at the G8 venue of Lough Erne on June 18, 2013 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The two day G8 summit, hosted by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, is being held in Northern Ireland for the first time. Leaders from the G8 nations have gathered to discuss numerous topics with the situation in Syria expected to dominate the talks. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
The G8 leaders begin talks on the morning of the second day of the summit
Russian President Vladimir Putin is greeted by Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (L) at the official arrival of the G8 leaders at the G8 venue of Lough Erne on June 17, 2013 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland.
G8 Protesters break through an outer fence during a protest near the G8 summit in Loch Erne, Enniskillen. Paul Faith/PA Wire
Anti G8 Demonstrators take to the streets of Enniskillen this evening. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Niall Carson/PA Wire
President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, Monday, June 17, 2013. Obama and Putin discussed the ongoing conflict in Syria during their bilateral meeting. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin reach to shake hands in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, Monday, June 17, 2013. Obama and Putin discussed the ongoing conflict in Syria during their bilateral meeting. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Protesters breach a wire fence at the outer perimeter of the security cordon at the G8 summit. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Ben Birchall/PA Wire
Protesters breach a wire fence resembling military style 'razor-wire' at the outer perimeter of the security cordon at the G8 summit in Loch Erne, Enniskillen. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Ben Birchall/PA Wire
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron and US President Barack Obama wave as they arrive at the G8 venue of Lough Erne on June 17, 2013 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The two day G8 summit, hosted by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, is being held in Northern Ireland for the first time. Leaders from the G8 nations have gathered to discuss numerous topics with the situation in Syria expected to dominate the talks. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
Prime Minister David Cameron chairs an EU/US trade summit with US President Barack Obama (left), German Chancellor Angela Merkel (right) and French President Francoise Hollande (not pictured) at this year's G8 Summit on Lough Erne near Enniskillen in Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday June 17, 2013. See PA story POLITICS G8. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
U.S. President Barack Obama glances at Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron during a news conference with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso at the G8 summit on June 17, 2013 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Andrew Winning - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, Monday, June 17, 2013. Obama and Putin discussed the ongoing conflict in Syria during their bilateral meeting. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
ENNISKILLEN: Anti-G8 protesters march through the streets near the G8 Summit on June 17, 2013 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland. The two day G8 summit, hosted by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, is being held in Northern Ireland for the first time. Leaders from the G8 nations have gathered to discuss numerous topics with the situation in Syria expected to dominate the talks. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
Anti-G8 protesters pictured beside Enniskillen Castle. Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye.
Anti-G8 protesters gather in Enniskillen town centre as they prepare to march out to the Lough Erne Golf resort. Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye.
Anti-G8 protesters gather in Enniskillen town centre as they prepare to march out to the Lough Erne Golf resort. Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye.
Anti-G8 protesters gather in Enniskillen town centre as they prepare to march out to the Lough Erne Golf resort. Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye.
Prime Minister David Cameron welcomes German Chancellor Angela Merkel, to this year's G8 Summit on Lough Erne near Enniskillen in Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday June 17, 2013. See PA story POLITICS G8. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers (left), Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness (second left), Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny (second right) and Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson (right) arrive at this year's G8 Summit on Lough Erne near Enniskillen in Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday June 17, 2013. See PA story POLITICS G8. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
US First Lady Michelle Obama addresses the crowd on stage at the visit by her and her two daughters Malia and Sasha to the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin for a special performance of Riverdance. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday June 17, 2013. Photo credit should read: Julien Behal/PA Wire
US First Lady Michelle Obama addresses the crowd on stage at the visit by her and her two daughters Malia and Sasha to the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin for a special performance of Riverdance. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday June 17, 2013. Photo credit should read: Julien Behal/PA Wire
Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson (right), Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness (left) and Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny (centre) arrive at this year's G8 Summit on Lough Erne near Enniskillen in Northern Ireland. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday June 17, 2013. See PA story POLITICS G8. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
US First Lady Michelle Obama chats with Fionnuala Kenny, wife of Taoiseach Enda Kenny (left) and her two daughters Malia and Sasha (right) the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin for a special performance of Riverdance. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday June 17, 2013. Photo credit should read: Julien Behal/PA Wire

Agreement has been reached by world leaders at the G8 summit on new action to tackle money-laundering and "shell companies" which are used to evade tax, Downing Street said today.

Transparency about the "beneficial ownership" of businesses was one of the key priorities set by Prime Minister David Cameron for the gathering in Northern Ireland.

It is hoped that international agreement on new rules will make it more difficult to set up companies in offshore tax havens which carry out no business activities but are used to conceal the ultimate owners of taxable assets.

Following discussions with the leaders of the G8 countries - the UK, US, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Japan and Russia - and Chancellor George Osborne at the Lough Erne summit, Mr Cameron sent out a message on Twitter to say that agreement had been reached on a UK action plan to prevent misuse of companies and legal arrangements.

G8 summit: live video

The plan, published by No 10, commits Britain to using legislation to ensure that all companies know who ultimately owns and controls them and to require them to obtain and hold adequate, accurate and current information on their beneficial ownership.

The UK action plan requires companies to provide details of their ownership to a central registry, but does not guarantee that the public will be able to access the information.

Mr Osborne said the Government was consulting on whether to make the register public and was "open" to the idea.

He told the BBC: "What you will see today is some of the largest countries in the world accepting that we should know who owns what company.

"How that information is available is really going to be partly a matter for those individual countries because they have all got different tax systems and different parliaments and so on."

African anti-poverty campaigners wrote to Mr Cameron with a last-ditch appeal for the registers to be made public.

Rakesh Rajani, the founder of Twaweza, and John Githongo, chief executive of the Inuka Kenya Trust, told him: "By committing to establishing public registries on companies' ownership, the G8 would crack down on the abuse of secret companies. This must be done in ways that work for developing countries. The best way of doing that is by making the registries public.

"Our countries and our citizens must not be left out of the transparency revolution."

Agreement is also expected in today's summit communique on changes to outdated international tax rules which allow wealthy companies and individuals to locate their profits in low-tax jurisdictions and avoid paying taxes on them in the countries where they were earnt.

Mr Osborne said he believed people would be "impressed" by the commitments achieved today.

"I think we have probably made more progress in the last 24 hours than people have made in at least 24 years," he said.

Decades-old international tax laws have failed to keep up with the new realities of the globalised world, said the Chancellor.

"As a result, individuals can hide the taxes they are supposed to pay in the international banking system and companies are able to shift their profits around the globe, away from where those profits are actually generated and therefore they don't pay tax," he said.

"That's really important because that is less money for our NHS and our schools and the things we need to invest in."

A key feature of the proposals is support for a new regime of exchange of tax information, so that countries will be able to know details of offshore accounts held by companies or individuals overseas.

Britain is planning to take part in a pilot scheme later this year to trial the new rules ahead of the introduction of new OECD standards, and wants to sign up other countries.

Britain has often been seen as an international black sheep on tax havens, thanks to the practices in its overseas territories and crown dependencies like Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. But Mr Osborne said their agreement in London on Saturday to accept the new OECD code showed the UK was "putting our house in order".

 

 

 

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