U.K. Must to Do More to Crack Down on Corruption, Say Lawmakers

  • Continued tax evasion risks underming country’s reputation
  • Report comes after May’s pledge to cut down on tax avoidance

The U.K. must do more to “get its own house in order” when it comes to corruption to avoid hindering international efforts, according to lawmakers in a recent report.

A continued lack of transparency in Britain’s overseas territories and dependencies, such as the British Virgin Islands, risks undermining the country’s status as a global leader in anti-corruption initiatives, said the report published by Parliament’s International Development Committee on Wednesday. It describes the government’s inability to persuade tax havens to create public registers of beneficial ownership -- which help prevent money laundering -- as a missed opportunity to build on the success of May’s anti-corruption summit in London, which saw 600 commitments made by participating states.

The findings come as a warning to Prime Minister Theresa May, who has made tackling tax evasion and avoidance by “elites” and business leaders a key touchstone of her young administration. The existence of tax havens and off-shore companies has come under particular scrutiny following the release of financial records exposing billions of dollars in hidden assets, in the so-called Panama Papers and the more recent Bahamas leaks.

“Ministers must address the role of some U.K. companies and individuals in facilitating global corruption,” said Steven Twigg, the lawmaker who chairs the committee, in a statement. “The people most at risk from this scourge are the world’s poorest, who lose out on education, health care and infrastructure; not to mention the impact of petty corruption on their daily lives.”

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