17th Mar 2018

British PM tries to break deadlock on tax havens

  • Cameron: tax havens must 'get their house in order' (Photo: World Economic Forum)

EU leaders will make another bid to agree rules on tax evasion after UK Prime Minister David Cameron called on 10 British tax havens to "get their house in order" on secret bank accounts.

In a letter released Monday (20 May) to the leaders of the British islands, including the Channel and Cayman islands, Cameron urged them to disclose details of accounts used for company ownership.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The islands should "provide for fully resourced and properly managed centralised registries, that are freely available to law enforcement and tax collectors, and contain full and accurate details on the true ownership and control of every company," he said

“We need to know who really owns and controls each and every company," he added.

He noted that the reforms were at “the heart of the ambition of Britain’s G8 to knock down the walls of company secrecy.”

Cameron's move is the latest attempt to break the deadlock on EU rules aimed at requiring the automatic exchange of data on tax cheats within the bloc.

On Wednesday (22 May) EU leaders will gather in Brussels for a summit where tax evasion and bank transparency will top the agenda.

EU finance ministers failed to reach agreement on the new regime in Brussels last week.

Luxembourg's finance minister Luc Frieden and Austria's Maria Fekter told reporters that they would not sign up to proposed EU rules on the issue until the UK took steps to crack down on tax fraud in its overseas protectorates.

However, ministers agreed to start talks with Switzerland, along with Liechtenstein, Monaco, Andorra and San Marino, on swapping bank account information.

Tax avoidance and bank secrecy have leapt up the political agenda in Europe as cash-strapped governments bid to maximise their tax revenues.

A paper prepared for the European Commission by tax expert Richard Murphy and his UK-based Tax Justice Network think tank claimed that up to 1 trillion of tax revenues are lost each year by EU countries.

At a time when most Europeans are facing tax hikes to fund deficit reduction, governments are also anxious to demonstrate that the super-rich will pay their share.

Meanwhile, politicians in France and Greece have also come under fire over the alleged use of secret bank accounts. French budget minister Jerome Cahuzac resigned in April after admitting to holding a Swiss bank account worth €600,000 to evade tax.

Investigations are also continuing into the so-called 'Lagarde list', held by the French managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which allegedly includes the names of 2,000 Greek politicians who hold secret accounts in Switzerland.

For their part, MEPs in Strasbourg will also debate tax policy on Tuesday (22 May) and are expected to demand an EU-wide blacklist for tax havens.

Ireland on the defensive in Apple tax row

Ireland has come under fire for its low-tax regime amid US revelations that Apple and other large corporations are using EU-based subsidiaries to avoid paying taxes.

VW dismisses complaints on Dieselgate fix

'I think customers who want to get information (...) are able to receive information if they want," VW management board member Hiltrud Werner told EUobserver. Consumer groups disagree.

News in Brief

  1. Sweden emerges as possible US-North Korean summit host
  2. Google accused of paying academics backing its policies
  3. New interior minister: 'Islam doesn't belong to Germany'
  4. Hamburg 'dieselgate' driver wins case to get new VW car
  5. Slovak deputy PM asked to form new government
  6. US, Germany, France condemn 'assault on UK sovereignty'
  7. MEPs accept Amsterdam as seat for EU medicines agency
  8. Auditors: EU farm 'simplification' made subsidies more complex

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceConmtroversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  2. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  3. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  4. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  5. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  6. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  7. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  8. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  9. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?
  10. European Jewish CongressThe 2018 European Medal of Tolerance Goes to Prince Albert II of Monaco
  11. FiscalNoteGlobal Policy Trends: What to Watch in 2018
  12. Human Rights and Democracy NetworkPromoting Human Rights and Democracy in the Next Eu Multiannual Financial Framework

Latest News

  1. Brexit and trade will top This WEEK
  2. Dutch MPs in plan to shut EU website on Russian propaganda
  3. Four years on – but we will not forget illegally-occupied Crimea
  4. Evacuated women from Libya arrive newly-pregnant
  5. Merkel in Paris for eurozone reform talks
  6. Commission rejects ombudsman criticism over Barroso case
  7. Western allies back UK amid Russian media blitz
  8. Meet the European Parliament's twittersphere