And tax haven secrecy now – this morning’s letter to the Guardian

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From the Guardian, this morning:

As organisations and individuals committed to transparency and standing up for the rights of the world’s poorest people, we urge the UK government to accept an amendment to the sanctions and anti-money laundering bill on Tuesday that would lift the veil of secrecy in Britain’s overseas territories.

Requiring them to publish public registers of company ownership by the end of 2020 would help tackle corruption and tax avoidance, and thereby help transform the lives of people in poverty (IMF to target City as part of crackdown on dirty money, 23 April).

Tax havens are estimated to cost developing countries $170bn in revenue every year. Greater transparency would help these countries claim their fair share of revenue, money they can then use to pay for public services. It is the poorest women and girls who most often miss out on medical care or the chance to go to school.

Five years ago, hundreds of thousands of people around the UK joined more than 100 charities to call for tax transparency from the UK and its overseas territories, a call accepted by the then prime minister. Tackling tax avoidance is a cause that has been championed by successive governments – including this one – and backed by MPs from all parties.

Yet while the UK has pressed ahead with transparency measures, the UK’s tax havens have held out. It’s time for ministers to finish the job.

Girish Menon CEO, ActionAid UK
Vladimir Ashurkov Executive director, Anti-Corruption Foundation (Russia)
Prof Prem Sikka Director, Association for Accountancy and Business Affairs
Graham Gordon Head of public policy, Cafod
Faiza Shaheen Director, Centre for Labour & Social Studies
Christine Allen Director of policy and public affairs, Christian Aid 
Reverend David Haslam Chair, Church Action for Tax Justice
Roman Borisovich Secretary, ClampK
Andrew Feinstein Executive director, Corruption Watch UK
Dr Wanda Wyporska Executive director, Equality Trust
Paul Monaghan Chief executive, Fair Tax Mark
Shauna Leven Director of corruption campaigns, Global Witness 
Jolyon Maugham QC 
Romilly Greenhill UK director, One Campaign 
Chris Taggart CEO, OpenCorporates
Zosia Sztykowski Project lead, OpenOwnership 
Matthew Spencer Director of campaigns, Oxfam 
James Royston Regional Coordinator, Publish What You Pay-International Secretariat
Peter Holbrook CEO, Social Enterprise UK
Alex Cobham Chief executive, Tax Justice Network
Robert Palmer Executive director, Tax Justice UK 
Prof Richard Murphy Director, Tax Research UK
Duncan Hames Director of policy, Transparency International UK 
Dr Mary-Ann Stephenson Director, UK Women’s Budget Group 
Liz McKean Director of campaigns and policy, War on Want