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UK Prime Minister David Cameron and fellow G8 leaders must crack down on anonymous company ownership, said Global Witness today following revelations by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) of the hidden offshore dealings of politicians, fraudsters and the super-rich.
The massive cache of leaked documents demonstrates how hidden ownership of shell companies can facilitate corruption, tax dodging and possibly worse.
Mr. Cameron has made a welcome promise to make tax and financial transparency priority issues at the meeting of G8 leaders in Northern Ireland this June.
Stuart McWilliam, Campaigner at Global Witness said: "This revelation of the extent of financial secrecy should act as a wake-up call to us all. Hidden company ownership enables corruption, state looting and dodgy deals that directly deplete state budgets and entrench poverty. Arms traffickers, drug dealers, and corrupt politicians all use shell companies to carry out their illicit activity."
"It is not just offshore centres that facilitate this sort of secrecy. Lawyers, banks and company service providers in the UK and US are expert at providing anonymity to those who can pay," he added.
"By requiring the names of the ultimate beneficial owners of all companies to be made public, G8 leaders could provide a huge boost to efforts to reduce corruption and financial crime globally and to promote development worldwide. There is no excuse for them not to act."
Notes to the Editor:
1. Read the ICIJ story. The story was a collaboration between the ICIJ and 86 journalists from 46 countries, including the Guardian, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Washington Post and Le Monde.
2. Read Global Witness' Idiot's Guide to Money Laundering.
3. Global Witness investigates and campaigns to prevent natural resource-related conflict and corruption and associated environmental and human rights abuses.