Date: April 15, 2016
By: Holly Ellyatt
Europe’s five largest economies have announced plans to share more information on business owners in a bid crack down on tax evasion.
The U.K., Germany, France, Italy and Spain are to share information on the ultimate owners of companies to make it more difficult for firms to “dodge tax or funnel corrupt funds.”
“Tax and law enforcement agencies from the five countries exchange data on company beneficial ownership registers and new registers of trusts, allowing for more effective investigation of financial wrongdoing,” the U.K. Treasury said in a press release on Thursday evening.
The agreement comes in the wake of the Panama Papers scandal earlier this month in which leaked papers from a Panama law firm shone a light on the hidden financial dealings of politicians and public officials around the globe.
The leak has caused casualties among high-profile European politicians with the Icelandic prime minister resigning after being named in the leaked papers and on Thursday, Spain’s interim industry minister followed suit after revelations about his offshore business activities. CNBC has not been able to independently verify the assertions.
Speaking on Thursday, the U.K.’s Chancellor George Osborne said the plans, which amount to a large data exchange, will be a “hammer blow” to tax evaders.
“Britain will work with our major European partners to find out who really owns the secretive shell companies and the trusts that have been used as conduits for evading tax and laundering money and benefiting from corruption,” he said at a news conference at the annual spring meeting of the International Monetary Fund in Washington, according to the press release.
Osborne later tweeted that the measures would improve tax transparency.