Top European countries call to end secrecy of shell companies

A policeman stands guard outside Mossack Fonseca, the Panamanian law firm whose leaked Panama Papers revealed how the world's wealthy and powerful used offshore companies to stash assets
AFP

Washington (AFP) – Europe’s five leading economies called Thursday for a crackdown on tax havens, urging the G20 powers to end the secrecy of shell companies that enables tax evasion and money laundering.

In the strongest reaction yet to the leaked “Panama Papers,” the finance ministers of Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain also proposed a blacklist of havens like Panama if they do not share corporate registry data with others.

They proposed establishing transnational registries that identify the beneficial owners of companies, trusts, foundations and other entities that had been able to hide from tax administrators and law enforcement.

“We want to have lists which make it possible to place sanctions on countries which don’t respect the rules,” said French Finance Minister Michel Sapin.

The proposal of the five was to be submitted to the finance ministers of the G20 meeting in Washington on Thursday and Friday.

“The recent extensive leaks from Panama show the critical importance of the fight against tax evasion, aggressive tax planning and money laundering,” the five said.

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