By Max de Haldevang
Britain is forcing many of the world’s most notorious tax havens to reveal their inner secrets, after prime minister Theresa May’s government caved to an opposition amendment that will make the UK Overseas Territories open up their corporate books.
The amendment requires tax havens like the Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, and Bermuda to publish registries of who actually owns companies registered there. These islands now provide almost no meaningful corporate ownership information, resulting in abuse by kleptocrats, gangsters, and tax evaders—as found in the Panama Papers leak, where around half the companies exposed were formed in the British Virgin Islands.
Anti-corruption campaigners lauded the move. “The UK’s tax havens have featured in countless corruption and money laundering cases—ending their corporate secrecy will throw a huge spanner in the works of corrupt dictators, tax evaders and organized criminals,” Naomi Hirst of Global Witness NGO said in a statement.