UK MP: ‘Ending Tax Secrecy Will Bring In £10B’

July 9, 2018

“Ending tax secrecy in the overseas territories will bring in £10 billion a year,” a British MP claimed during a recent sitting of British Parliament.

Shadow Minister Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Helen Goodman said, “Ending tax secrecy in the overseas territories will bring in £10 billion a year. Will the Chancellor organise a lunch for my right hon. Friend Dame Margaret Hodge, Mr Mitchell and the entire Labour Whips Office, who were instrumental in securing this change?”

The Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond replied, “When I have the money in the bank, I will invite them around for a glass of champagne,” and following that Speaker John Bercow said, “That is a pretty generous offer from the Treasury. It will be recorded in Hansard; it will be in the Official Report.”

The two MPs referenced — MP Margaret Hodge and the Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell — were the MPs who brought forward the amendment that aims to allow the UK to order Overseas Territories to make their beneficial ownership registers publicly accessible.

The Bill seeks to enforce registers going public, and does not directly mandate increased tax payments in the UK, so whether it would have an actual impact on UK tax revenue remains to be seen.

A beneficial ownership register is a database of information on business owners, and while the vast majority of nations worldwide do not make theirs public, the UK does, with their register going public in 2016, becoming the first nation in the world to do so.

This matter has been discussed for years, and the Bermuda’s Government’s position over the years has been that they maintain registers, provide information to official entities at request and will make the registers public when it becomes world standard, which it currently is not.

Premier David Burt has made the Bermuda Government’s position clear, saying: “There will be no public register of Beneficial Ownership in Bermuda until this Honourable House, elected by the people of Bermuda votes to implement one,” adding that the “Government rejects the regressive colonial mindset that some in London hold.”

Other Overseas Territories leaders have taken similar positions, with the UK being accused of colonialism by some of the Overseas Territories, with the islands’ leaders calling it an “affront,” an “unacceptable act of modern colonialism,” and an action that would “overturn democracy in the relevant territory.

Following a conference call with British Prime Minister Theresa May and leaders of the Overseas Territories in May of this year, a statement from the British Government said, “The Prime Minister spoke about the recent passage of the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act.

“She said that she understood that the cross-Party amendment to this legislation that would require the Overseas Territories to create public registers was a matter of great concern for the leaders and that she was conscious of the strong reactions the issue had provoked in their territories.

“The Prime Minister added that the government highly values the relationship with the Overseas Territories and would continue to work in a collaborative and pragmatic way on these issues and others.

“The Prime Minister spoke of the government’s efforts to promote public registers of company beneficial ownership as the global standard and reiterated that we would expect other major financial centres, including the Crown Dependencies, to adopt public registers at that point.

“She also welcomed the importance of the existing cooperation of the Overseas Territories with UK law enforcement agencies and emphasised the need for this to continue and develop.”

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  1. Hmm says:

    Sure, but to the detriment of OT’s economies and the livelihoods of the people residing in them. Smh.