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Miliband secrecy warning to overseas territories

printer Mail

Labour leader Ed Miliband issued a written warning to the leaders of Britain’s overseas territories and crown dependencies over tax avoidance, saying that under a Labour government they would have six months to compile a public register of offshore companies or risk being put on a ‘tax havens’ blacklist and face sanctions..

‘There is nothing pro-business about defending tax avoidance,’ Miliband wrote. ‘The UK has a responsibility to open up the overseas territories and crown dependencies which are held responsible for so much tax secrecy and avoidance … Billions of pounds are being siphoned off into tax havens where our authorities cannot discover even the true ownership of firms registered there, let alone the scale of wealth hidden away.’

Peter Mills, chair of the Guernsey International Business Association, told the BBC that Miliband ‘has clearly not done his research’. Mills said that Guernsey was ‘committed to transparency’, but added that ‘certain information [about individuals’ wealth] should not be in the public domain’.

Meanwhile, the government of Bermuda said it was ‘surprised and disappointed’ that the island has been included in the list of referenced territories that lack openness in areas such as the ultimate beneficial ownership of companies. It said Bermuda already has a central beneficial ownership register. The premier of Bermuda, Michael H. Dunkley, said: ‘The government of Bermuda remains open to continuing dialogue with the UK government and all other interested parties, in sharing best practice across borders in areas of corporate transparency, and the fight against fraud and crime.

‘We would also remind Mr Miliband of Bermuda’s strategic economic contribution to the UK, which includes direct and indirect employment in the UK of 100,000 people, as well as our role as a global hub for the reinsurance and insurance industries, providing the critical underwriting required for damage arising from natural disasters and terrorist events.’