The British parliament is set to approve legislation forcing the country’s offshore territories, such as the Virgin and the Cayman Islands, to disclose the identities of those benefiting from assets kept in their jurisdictions.
Parliament will vote on the draft, proposed by Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge, as early as next week, reports The Times. UK tax havens have up to now been exempt from the current law, which requires the names of those holding such assets to be made public The proposal, strongly supported by the Labour Party’s frontbench, is supposedly aimed at tackling money laundering and, by extension, criminality, corruption and oppression, including in Russia.
The move comes more than a month after the alleged poisoning of former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury. London immediately accused Russia of being behind the attack, but has refused to provide evidence.
“Mrs May has so far led the world in taking a stand against Russia’s challenge to international norms,” said the former International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell, as quoted by the media. “But if she is to deliver on her promises she must ensure that filthy money fueling the worst abuses isn’t sheltering under a British flag anywhere in the world.”
UK tax haven reforms were launched in 2013. Back then, the government headed by Prime Minister David Cameron launched a public register of beneficial ownership that publicly revealed the owners of assets held in complex webs of shell companies. However, authorities failed to persuade British overseas territories to follow suit.
Earlier this week, Russia’s Federal Financial Monitoring Service discovered thousands of offshore companies through which Russians laundered billions of rubles. The agency revealed financial transactions worth billions of rubles, involving thousands of Russian individuals, including high-ranking officials.