10:25 GMT +312 December 2019
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    German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble attends for the weekly cabinet meeting on March 23, 2016 at the Chancellery in Berlin.

    Germany Tells UK to Crackdown on Overseas Territory Tax Haven 'Freeloaders'

    © AFP 2019 / Tobias Schwarz
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    #PanamaPapers: Biggest Ever Offshore Leaks (94)

    Senior German political figures have lashed out at the UK's failure to crack down on tax loopholes in its Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies, with Berlin to announce its own measures aimed at shutting down international tax havens.

    Following the furore of the Panama Papers, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble labeled tax havens "the freeloaders of the international community," stating that the government would unveil "concrete steps" on how to combat global tax evasion. Writing in an article for German nespaper Bild am Sonntag, he said:

    "We need complete transparency worldwide."

    With the explosive leaks from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca drawing attention to the Central American country, Schaeuble urged Panamanian government authorities to join an existing agreement signed by nearly 100 states, pledging to share tax data.

    "A bilateral tax agreement between Germany and Panama was negotiated three years ago, but Panama has not signed it. I expect the Panamanian government to switch to the honest camp after these embarrassing revelations," he wrote.

    Pressure on Cameron to Act

    While Panama was the epicenter of the explosive claims, attention has increasingly turned towards the UK, with Britain second only to Hong Kong in a list of international jurisdictions where the most banks, law firms and other stakeholders mentioned in the Panama Papers operate. 

    In particular, there has been increased criticism of many of the UK's Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies, such as the Cayman Islands and Jersey, with critics pointing towards the huge numbers of businesses using the territories to avoid paying normal rates of tax.

    Ralph Brinkhaus, senior member of Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union party, told German newspaper Welt am Sonntag that British Prime Minister David Cameron needed to take a firmer stance in regards to its overseas territories.

    "We'll only be convincing on the international stage if we are, first of all, fully compliant in the EU, and for me, that includes Britain exerting influence over its overseas territories — we need to make that clear to the Brits in upcoming talks."

    Backing up the pressure on London to act, Carsten Schneider, member of the ruling junior coalition party, the Social Democrats, said Cameron's credibility was at stake over the issue.

    "If David Cameron still wants to be taken seriously personally and politically in the fight against tax fraud and tax evasion, Britain needs to close the loopholes in its own country immediately," he told Welt am Sonntag.

    #PanamaPapers: Biggest Ever Offshore Leaks (94)


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    tax haven, transparency, tax evasion, leaked documents, Panama papers, Wolfgang Schaeuble, David Cameron, Germany, United Kingdom, Panama
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