Opening the conference, UK Prime Minister David Cameron said: "What we're doing to expose corruption, where the absolute key is having greater transparency and you can see countries committee to exchanging more tax information, ownership information and — in the case of the United Kingdom and others — for the first time having not just a beneficial ownership register — who owns what — but also making that public so that it can be investigated by others."
However, critics have said that — although the UK itself may be cracking down on corruption — many of the Crown dependencies of the United Kingdom — such as Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man — and British Overseas Territories — including Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the British Virgin Islands and Gibraltar — remain secretive about the tax affairs of companies registered in their territories.
Erosion of Sovereignty
War on Want say the UK's Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies "provide a hot bed for the dodgy affairs of big business and the super-rich." Ahead of the summit, Cameron's office admitted to having a lukewarm reception from many of its own tax havens, saying: "We are in discussions with the Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies with major financial centers about their attendance, and expect a number to join the Summit."
Owen Espley, Senior Economic Justice Campaigner at War on Want, told Sputnik:
"The reason tax havens exist is to be able to escape the regulation of countries where businesses are actually making their money."
"Sometimes that regulation might be unfair and sometimes it's not, but fundamentally, tax havens function to ensure that rich individuals and multinational are not subject to the regulation of the countries where they are actually doing their business and actually making their money.
"As such they kind of erode the sovereignty of countries to be able to regulate and tax businesses within their territories. In particular, tax havens are an essential catalyst for the rising inequality that we see around the world. I've not been persuaded yet that I can see any legitimate reason for tax havens to exist because they exist solely to undermine the ability of countries to regulate business activities," he told Sputnik.