Cyprus is among some 20 countries that have joined a British-led bid to crack down on offshore tax evasion, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has said.
The initiative, which aims at automatic information-sharing on the true owners of offshore companies between national authorities, has thus far been joined by Germany, France, Spain and Italy, as well as a host of other countries and jurisdictions.
Participating countries and territories exchange data between tax and law enforcement agencies on company beneficial ownership registers and new registers of trusts to try to ensure more effective investigation of financial wrongdoing and tax-dodging.
Osborne said the growing international group would deal a blow to tax evaders.
“Only a week after Britain launched this initiative with some of our closest European partners, it’s gaining the international support that will be vital to make it truly effective,” he said.
“I welcome the early commitment made by Gibraltar, Isle of Man and Montserrat to participate and call on all of the remaining Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies to do likewise.
“It should be clear to all countries and tax jurisdictions that the world is moving firmly in the direction of greater tax transparency and the UK will continue to push for an internationally-agreed blacklist for
those that refuse to do the right thing.”
The initiative comes at a time when revelations on offshore companies’ set-up and activity from documents leaked from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca’s internal database have shaken governments and organisations worldwide.
The leak has led to calls for greater transparency and accountability with regard to the setting up of shell offshore companies, tax evasion, and money laundering.
Countries joining the initiative include The Netherlands, Romania, Finland, Slovakia, Latvia, Croatia, Belgium, Ireland, Slovenia, Denmark, Malta, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Portugal, Estonia, Greece and Czech Republic.