THE Prime Minister has missed his big chance to stamp out secrecy in UK tax havens, Christian Aid said last week, at the end of an anti-corruption conference in London.
While the UK has created a public register of the true owners of each British company, inspiring other nations from the Netherlands to Afghanistan to do the same, David Cameron had not forced the UK’s overseas territories to follow his lead.
”Today was David Cameron’s best chance to stop the UK’s network of tax havens profiting from secrecy, but he has failed to take the action he urged on others,” the principal economic-justice adviser at Christian Aid, Toby Quantrill, said last Friday.
The executive director of Tax Justice Network Africa, Alvin Mosioma, agreed: “Flowery political statements by rich countries’ leaders must translate to concrete action, with them cleaning the corruption swamps in their own backyards.”
Christian Aid said that Mr Cameron should be praised, however, for hosting the summit, and pushing tax evasion up the global agenda.
Earlier, the Prime Minister had announced in The Guardian new measures that, he said, would help tackle corruption at home. He promised to create a new offence for corporations and their executives of failing to prevent fraud or money-laundering within their firms.
While these measures were “potentially useful”, Mr Cameron’s failure to insist on public registers of ownership for UK tax havens meant that he had missed his opportunity to make the biggest difference, a Christian Aid spokeswoman said.
”Some of these measures he has announced today are potentially useful, but there is a hell of a lot of spin.”
Before the summit began, church leaders urged the Government in an open letter to use the conference to ensure that the billions of pounds funnelled out of poorer countries through tax havens do not stunt development (News, 13 May).
Corruption and tax evasion deprive the developing world of the funds it needs to provide public services and grow its economy, the signatories wrote. “We believe this is a moral outrage.”