Published: November 4, 2013
Burnham-On-Sea MP welcomes clampdown pledge on 'phantom firms'

Burnham-On-Sea's MP has this week welcomed an announcement by the government that it is to clampdown on 'phantom firms'.

The Coalition Government has pledged to make public the names of who actually owns and controls British companies, in a move applauded by MP Tessa Munt, who has been campaigning for greater transparency on company ownership for over 18 months.

'Phantom firms' offered secrecy to the world's tax evaders, child traffickers, corrupt politicians, drug barons and terrorists.

"For so long, these companies have hidden who really owns and controls them, paying bribes, moving money from country to country, shielding their profits and dodging paying their taxes," she says.

"Right here, British 'phantom firms' have been used to break United Nations' arms bans, using anonymous 'shell' companies as a loophole to sell weapons and military kit to criminals like Gaddafi in Libya and Assad in Syria."

"Poor countries get an unfair kicking - with losses up to the tune of £100bn in tax-take every year. It's a scandal that Africa loses twice as much through tax evasion as it receives in international aid."

"Life will now be harder for criminals, who won't be able to hide their identities behind sham UK companies and for the corrupt, who will not be able to fund luxury lifestyles from the billions of pounds they siphon off in developing countries."

"Credit should go to the Prime Minister and Vince Cable, the Secretary of State for Business, for showing leadership on this issue. Other countries, including the British tax havens, the US and the EU now need to follow the UK's example."

Christine Allen, Director of Policy at Christian Aid, added: "This announcement of a public register of who really owns of UK companies shows that the Government has genuinely listened to the arguments about the powerful benefits of transparency."

"In particular, we're very grateful for the strong support Tessa has shown in parliament for our campaign to clamp down on tax dodging. The challenge now will be to ensure that this policy is delivered effectively and that the poorest people in our world are among those who feel the benefits one of the charities campaigning for change added."

Pictured: Tessa Munt with Vince Cable and Christine Allen, Director of Policy at Christian Aid outside the Department for Business Innovation and Skils (Courtesy of Christian Aid)


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