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UK Gov’t Needs to 'Lift Lid' on Tax Haven Secrecy – Charity

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Taxation - Sputnik International
The UK government needs to do more to remove a veil of secrecy surrounding trusts and foundations believed to be involved in tax-evasion, Melanie Kramers, a senior press officer at an international justice and poverty non-profit group, told Sputnik on Monday.

EDINBURGH (Sputnik), Mark Hirst – Her comments come on the day the charity published a report called Ending the Era of Tax Havens that revealed that over the past 15 years, a quarter of the wealth generated in Britain had gone to the richest one percent in the country, all of them millionaires.

"The UK government has shown leadership on countering tax-dodging by making information on who really owns and profits from companies in the UK publicly available. To fully lift the lid on secrecy, we now need to see it extended to include trusts and foundations," Oxfam's Kramers stated.

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Oxfam estimated that over 170 billion of pounds ($244 billion) had been diverted to tax havens by Britain’s richest individuals to jurisdictions like the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. The charity claimed this tax evasion was costing the British government approximately 5 billion of pounds ($7.2 billion) a year in lost revenue. The report went on to estimate that the global cost of governments was believed to be around 120 billion of pounds ($190 billion).

Asked whether greater regulation was needed for the UK financial institutions to close down tax havens, Kramers replied that in terms of regulation of the financial sector, tax haven secrecy had a significant impact on the ability of financial regulators to identify and mitigate risk in capital markets.

"Therefore we have made four key recommendations to the UK government and the big four audit firms that would tighten up regulation."

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If accepted, Oxfam’s recommendations would see the big four audit firms, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), publish profit reporting on a country-by-country basis. Audit firms would also be required to only assist those companies who fulfilled both the spirit and letter of the law and refrained from taxation lobbying that could "reasonably" be interpreted as being against the public interest.

Oxfam’s final recommendation called for the comprehensive publication of political activity in each jurisdiction designed to show whether jurisdictions had come under undue, "direct or indirect" lobbying.

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