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British territories sign deals on tackling tax evasion


20:38, May 02, 2013

LONDON, May 2 (Xinhua) -- More "tax havens" such as Bermuda and the British Vergin Islands have pledged to cooperate with Britain and other European countries to tackle tax evasion and enhance transparency, the British finance ministry announced on Thursday.

Based on the agreements, all British overseas territories with significant financial centers will have to automatically provide bank account details, including names, addresses, dates of birth, account numbers, account balances and payment details, said the finance ministry.

Those who signed the agreements Thursday included Anguilla, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

They have agreed to pilot the automatic exchange of information bilaterally with Britain and multilaterally with the G5, namely Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

The Isle of Man, the first non-U.S. jurisdiction to agree to greater exchange of information with Britain, has also agreed to join the multilateral initiative. Guernsey too has also expressed a clear interest.

"These jurisdictions have, as well as this, committed to taking action to ensure they are at the forefront of transparency on company ownership," the treasury said.

British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has urged others to join this growing initiative. He said: "This represents a significant step forward in tackling illicit finance and sets the global standard in the fight against tax evasion."

"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."

The agreements build on those Britain reached with the Isle of Man, Guernsey and Jersey to exchange tax information automatically based on our groundbreaking automatic information exchange agreement with the U.S. to implement the US FATCA law to tackle tax evasion.

"The government sees this as setting a new standard in international tax transparency," the treasury said.

The government is working closely with them ahead of the British presidency of the G8. Earlier this year, Prime Minister David Cameron identified tax transparency as a key priority for the summit.

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