British PM urged to act over British Virgin Islands
Published on April 6, 2013
Road Town, British Virgin Islands. Wikimedia/Captain-tucker
By Caribbean News Now contributor
LONDON, England — Britain’s prime minister David Cameron has come under pressure to act against the secretive offshore industry at June’s G8 summit, as leaked evidence continued to mount that politicians and tycoons from all over the world have used the British Virgin Islands to hide funds.
The premier of Georgia, Bidzina Ivanishvili, was the latest to be named, along with prominent Pakistani, Indian, Thai and Indonesian figures – while there was fresh evidence of Britons acting as front directors for companies based in offshore havens such as the BVI, the Guardian newspaper reported.
A senior Liberal Democrat figure said the leaks showed the secret haven of the BVI “stains the face of Britain”, as anti-corruption campaigners called for action.
“How can David Cameron keep a straight face calling for the G8 to make big business pay tax when we let the BVI use British law and British protection to suck in billions in dirty money?” said Lord Oakeshott, a former Treasury spokesman.
“How much British aid paid to corrupt countries like Pakistan ends up behind a BVI brass plate?” he asked.
Robert Palmer of the campaign group Global Witness repeated the call for Cameron to act, saying, “The massive cache of leaked documents demonstrates how hidden ownership of shell companies facilitates corruption, tax dodging and other crimes.”
He added, “The time to deal with this issue is now. Given that he has pledged to tackle these secretive shell companies at this year’s G8 summit in Northern Ireland, he and his fellow leaders must commit to publishing information on the people who ultimately control and own companies.”
The names of thousands of owners of secret offshore companies are currently being published by the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), in collaboration with the Guardian and other international media.
This follows the leak to ICIJ of a hard drive containing 200GB of internal files of offshore incorporation agencies in the BVI, Singapore and the Cook Islands.