UK helps close in on British tax havens

Hiding money in offshore countries is about to get harder after British territories were called upon to reveal individuals behind shell companies in the next two years.

On Tuesday, May 1, the UK Parliament voted in favor of requiring any British Overseas Territory that has not already done so to introduce public registers that reveal the individuals behind companies based there by the end of 2020.

More than half of the offshore companies referred to in the Panama Papers were set up in the British Virgin Islands.

The Cayman Islands, a tiny group of islands in the Caribbean just south of Cuba with a population of only 60,000 and a domestic economy of just US$3 billion has a combined value of banking activity from abroad, foreign portfolio investment, and foreign direct investment of over $4,000 billion.

British has 14 territories: Akrotiri and Dhekelia; Anguilla; Bermuda; British Antarctic Territory; British Indian Ocean Territory; British Virgin Islands; Cayman Islands; Falkland Islands; Gibraltar; Montserrat; Pitcairn Islands; Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha; South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; Turks and Caicos Islands.

The new move means that companies based in the British Overseas Territories which have long been a destination of choice for money-launderers and others seeking to move or hide their wealth offshore will finally be brought to light.

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