When the premiers of the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands (British Overseas Territories that are notorious tax-havens) visited the UK last year, Tory government ministers sent formal letters asking for meetings with them to discuss tax evasion. The premiers never answered the letters.
There were no meetings.
These facts came to light when the Independent used the Freedom of Information Act to get hold of a letter from David Gauke, a Treasury minister, and James Dudderidge, the Foreign Office minister responsible for Overseas Territories and the Caribbean, to the government, admitting failure in managing to secure a meeting with the BVI and Caymans leaders.
“As discussed on the telephone on 24 March, we were due to meet in London yesterday with the other Overseas Territories to continue our dialogue about international standards on tackling all forms of illicit finance, and to focus on how we can work together to ensure companies cannot hide their beneficial ownership from law enforcement and tax authorities,” both the letters say.
They continue: “It is therefore deeply disappointing, despite numerous attempts, that we have not been able to meet collectively to discuss a way forward on effective implementation of the G20 Principles on beneficial ownership, despite our shared public commitment to do so.
“Meanwhile, the global debate on the importance of raising international standards to tackle money laundering, tax evasion, illicit finance and corruption has intensified.”
The ministers go on to say that draft proposals by the two governments on the issue of beneficial ownership “do not go far enough”, though they both praise other measures taken on tax evasion since the 2013 Loch Erne summit.
UK ministers humiliated after Cayman and BVI leaders repeatedly ignore requests for meetings
[Jon Stone/The Independent]
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