The UK will be provided with a wealth of information about companies and individuals registered in well-known tax havens after nine more countries signed up to international tax protocols.
Luxembourg, Singapore and Austria, a traditionally secretive banking jurisdiction, were among the countries adding their names to a list of more than 50 countries who have agreed to automatically exchange tax information.
The new information will help foreign nations to clamp down on tax debtors and allow countries to conduct wide-ranging joint multiparty tax investigations. The Austrian finance minister, Maria Fekter, hailed the news, announced at the OECD ministerial meeting in Paris, as a “huge step forward” for her country.
She said that signing the OECD’s multilateral convention on mutual administrative assistance on tax matters would “increase Austria’s ability to actively contribute to the current international effort to [tackle tax] base erosion and profit shifting”.
After many decades of banking secrecy which have allowed foreign account holders to veil their assets, Fekter said “recent developments” had persuaded Austria of “the importance of such cross-border co-operation in order to minimise the opportunity for international tax avoidance and evasion”.
Less than a month ago, Fekter branded the UK and its overseas territories as “the island of the blessed for tax evasion and money laundering” and called for a registry for disclosing the beneficiaries of trusts.
On Wednesday, without naming the UK specifically, Fekter repeated her call for more information about the true beneficiaries of hundreds of billions of assets, saying: “We should not only focus on … access to bank information but also for the disclosure of beneficial ownership and beneficiaries of corporations and trusts and similar entities in general.”
Singapore’s deputy prime minister, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, said UK overseas territories needed to come on board to ensure the convention functioned properly: “Signing the convention reflects Singapore’s commitment to tax co-operation based on international standards, but the standards can only work if all financial centres come on board. Singapore will work with international partners to achieve that, so that … offshore jurisdictions like the British Overseas Territories move together.”
Austrian finance minister
The Austrian finance minister Marie Fekter pictured on the right agreed to join fifty other nation sin the OECD drive to stamp out tax invasion by allowing signatories to share tax information on companies and individuals.
The European Union commission and many of its members have signed up with nations like Austria joining the United Kingdom in sharing tax information across borders on multinational companies.
The European Union a bloc of twenty seven nations have many members hat are signatories to the OECD tax sharing initiative, signatories include Luxembourg, Austria, the United Kingdom.