Britain to fight ‘shell companies’ with new register: PM

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Britain is to publish a register of who owns and controls companies to fight the “cloak of secrecy” surrounding shadowy shell firms, Prime Minister David Cameron said on Thursday.
Cameron told a summit on open government in London that the register would focus attention on the international movement of money.
“For too long a small minority have hidden their business dealings behind a complicated web of shell companies — and this cloak of secrecy has fuelled all manner of questionable practice and downright illegality,” he said.
Such practices were “bad for the developing world — as corrupt regimes stash their money abroad under different identities” and it hurt the British economy too as people avoided paying taxes, Cameron said. Britain made tax transparency a central theme of the G8 summit it hosted in Northern Ireland in June.
“This summer at the G8 we committed to do just that — to establish a central register of company beneficial ownership,” Cameron said. “And today I’m delighted to announce that not only is that register going to go ahead, but that it’s also going to be open to the public.”
The decision to publish the British register was welcomed by campaigners.
Poverty campaign group One said it was a “really important moment in the fight against corruption”. One’s Europe executive director Adrian Lovett said: “Making information about who owns and controls companies publicly available will give citizens and journalists in developing countries access to the data they need to follow the money and root out corruption.”

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