U.K. Steps Up Tax Crackdown With Caribbean Accord

The U.K. signed agreements with territories including Anguilla, Bermuda and the British Virgin Islands in the latest effort to fight tax evasion as the government struggles to contain its borrowing.

All the British overseas territories with financial centers signed up to the government’s effort, “marking a turning point in the fight against tax evasion and illicit finance,” the Treasury said in a statement in London today.

“This represents a significant step forward in tackling illicit finance and sets the global standard in the fight against tax evasion,” Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said in the statement. “I now hope others follow these governments’ lead and enter into similar commitments to this new level of transparency, removing the hiding places for those who seek to evade tax and hide their assets.”

Last month, the U.K. government gave individuals evading tax through the Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey three years to pay up or face prosecution. Under today’s agreement, the territories will share the information with France, Germany, Italy and Spain as well as the U.K.

Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos Islands have also signed the agreement, the Treasury said. An accord is already in place with the Cayman Islands. The territories -- all in the Caribbean -- have local autonomy, though Britain retains control over their foreign relations and defense.

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