Public enemies – why offshore lawyers are opposing plans for a public register of beneficial owners
The question of where a Prime Minister should holiday is never straightforward. Borrow a billionaire's Tuscan villa and it smacks of elitism (just ask Tony Blair). Visit several spots in a single year and watch eyebrows rise (David Cameron). This year, at least, the Camerons can rule out a good few locations from the off – namely the UK's very own overseas territories (OTs) and crown dependencies (CDs). It all goes back to the Prime Minister's call for greater transparency on company ownership at last June's G8 summit. Cameron pledged to establish a list of the ultimate owners of UK companies – a 'register of beneficial ownership' – which his Government has since confirmed will be publicly available. "We need to know who really owns and controls our companies," said the premier, outlining a bid to tackle financial crime and corruption. "Not just who owns them legally, but who really benefits financially from their existence."
In a bid to combat financial corruption, David Cameron has called for a public register of beneficial owners to be adopted by the UK, its overseas territories and crown dependencies. But his proposal has been met with stern opposition from offshore lawyers, who argue that such a move would diminish Britain’s competitive edge, infringe privacy rights and in fact increase the crime it is trying to fight. Caroline Thorpe reports
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