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Business Crime Solicitor Stine Dulong on tax avoidance schemes

Chancellor George Osborne has announced a deal that seeks to commit so-called tax havens into disclosing the bank details of British tax payers.

This is part of an international pilot to clamp down on wealthy banking clients who escape paying taxes by hiding their money overseas, various countries including Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos Islands have all agreed to automatically share information with the UK.

In addition the British Overseas Territories will pass on names, addresses, dates of birth, account numbers, account balances and payment details and the move also extends to some accounts held by trusts and share information with other G5 nations.

Both Osborne and David Cameron have reiterated that it is matter for international co-operation and that Britain will be leading international action on tax avoidance through its presidency of the G8 which will see tax transparency as a top priority.

Cameron has also come under pressure to also act against Britain's secretive offshore industry at June's G8 summit, as leaked evidence continued to mount that politicians and tycoons from all over the world have used the British Virgin Islands to hide funds.

If disclosure is extended to naming directors of companies formed offshore in these so-called tax havens, the current difficulties for investigators like the Financial Conduct Authority and Trading standards in trying to identify the true owners of companies committing regulatory breaches will be made much easier. 

Historically, the trend for companies running unauthorised regulatory activity in the UK has been to hide the identity of the owners by forming companies abroad. However, this could be a thing of the past if the Government follows through with their proposals.

By Business Crime Solicitor Stine Dulong.

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