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Tax Evasion in U.K. Territories Must End, Cameron Says

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Tax Evasion in U.K. Territories Must End, Cameron Tells Islands
George Town, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands. Photographer: David Rogers/Getty Images

May 20 (Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister David Cameron wrote to the Cayman Islands and nine other U.K. territories to request action to tackle company tax evasion as Britain prepares to host the Group of Eight summit next month.

“We need to know who really owns and controls each and every company,” according to the letter, released today by Cameron’s Downing Street office. “This goes right to the heart of the ambition of Britain’s G8 to knock down the walls of company secrecy.”

Cameron asked the countries to set up central registries that contain information on the owners and controllers of every company, and for this information to be made available to law enforcement and tax collectors. He asked the nations to attend an event on June 15 to indicate progress on tax, trade and transparency.

He said that while countries have the right to set low taxes, they’re sustainable only if “what is owed is actually paid -- and if the rules to achieve this are set and enforced fairly to create a level playing field right across the world,” he wrote. “There is no point in dealing with tax evasion in one country if the problem is simply displaced to another.”

The letter was also sent to Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Gibraltar, Anguilla, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos Islands, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.

Cameron sent his letter as European Union leaders prepare to meet this week also to discuss tax evasion. The leaders of the 27-member bloc, including Cameron, will meet in Brussels May 22 to agree on a plan governing how EU countries share tax data after finance ministers last week failed to reach a decision.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jennifer Ryan in London at jryan13@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Craig Stirling at cstirling1@bloomberg.net

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