Foreign Office holds tax havens summit

cayman islands

The Foreign Office’s Overseas Territories Consultative Council is to meet
with representatives of tax havens, as it comes under pressure to crack down on
the governance of the jurisdictions.

In April and May there were bilateral talks with territories’ attorney
generals, police commisioners and regulators.

Next week’s London meeting follows criticism from the
Commons Foreign
Affairs Committee
, which supported a demand from the
Accounts Committee
for territory governors to use reserve powers to bring in
more external investigators or prosecutors.

The FO denied complacency over money laundering risks in offshore tax haven
administrations in British overseas dependencies. It claimed it had ‘close and
consistent engagement’ with agencies in Anguilla, Montserrat and the Turks and
Caicos Islands in particular to ‘encourage’ them to keep up with international
standards and help draft legislation.

The FO said it provided ‘targeted assistance where vulnerabilities have been
identified’ and insisted its ‘partnership approach’ was ‘crucial’.

‘Use of governors’ reserve powers to bring in external investigators would be
very much
a last resort,’ it said.

There are bilateral talks with agencies in the territories aimed at drawing
up action plans to improve capacity and compliance with international standards.

The National Audit
last year raised the alarm over territories’ ability to assess money
laundering risks.

Gibraltar chief minister Peter Caruana dismissed the concerns.

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