The global elite gathered once again last week to discuss the world’s economic outlook. Many are getting away with tax avoidance on an industrial scale. As questions linger over how much tax companies are paying, what is equitable and global harmonisation, so do those over tax transparency. Progress on tax avoidance has been slow, with Theresa May only appointing John Penrose as anti-corruption champion in December. The strategy is far from concrete. The promised register of the true owners of overseas companies that own UK property has been pushed back to summer 2019. We know that the UK’s tax havens are providing luxury vehicles to the corrupt to launder and spend their money. If Penrose wants to make a difference, he must add a renewed focus and pressure the government to reform the financial services industries in these crown dependencies and overseas territories, which must have public registers of beneficial ownership. And anti-corruption provisions should be made in all trade agreements. The upcoming commonwealth heads of government meeting is a huge opportunity to push for this. Movement has simply been too slow. If we are to truly lead the world in tackling corruption, we can start in our own backyard.
Catherine West MP
Labour, House of Commons
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