Press Releases

HISTORIC PRESS RELEASE : G7 initiative on harmful tax competition [May 1998]

The press release issued by HM Treasury on 9 May 1998.

A major new initiative to tackle harmful tax competition was agreed by G7 Finance Ministers today at a meeting in London chaired by Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown.

The G7 agreement paves the way for more international exchange of tax information to curb international tax evasion and avoidance through tax havens and preferential tax regimes. It reinforces the recommendations of the OECD Report for curbing harmful tax competition and the complementary EU Code of Conduct on business taxation.

It also commits the G7 to leading international action on tax related crime by gathering more intelligence through money laundering systems and providing for it to be shared internationally by tax authorities.

Announcing the UK inspired initiative, Mr Brown said;

“Our agreement today represents a major breakthrough in tackling the growing problems caused by harmful tax competition, and the tax evasion and avoidance it generates. This reinforces the OECD’s vital work to curb the damaging effects of tax havens and preferential tax regimes.

“We are determined to put in place strong and practical measures to tackle the growing threat of international tax crime and evasion through tax havens and preferential tax regimes. The globalisation of business and finance makes this an increasingly pressing issue.

“This initiative paves the way for co-ordinated international action to allow information to be passed to tax authorities, so that honest citizens and business do not have to pay the price of the activities of tax fraudsters. We in the G7 are committed to building practical co- operation at every level to counter these threats.”

The G7 agreement;

i) reinforces the OECD’s Report which provides a platform for tackling harmful tax competition, and for obtaining more information about transactions in tax havens and preferential tax regimes. This complements and mutually reinforces the EU Code of Conduct on Business Taxation;

ii) addresses a potential weakness in international anti-money laundering systems by ensuring that financial institutions report suspicions about the movement of criminal assets regardless of whether they believe that the criminality involved is tax related. This is partly motivated by growing evidence that criminals can evade anti money laundering systems by presenting their affairs as tax related to reassure their bankers, brokers and professional advisors;

iii) provides an important new source of intelligence to tax authorities by making it possible for suspicious transaction reports received by law enforcement agencies to be made accessible to those investigating tax related crimes domestically or overseas.

To advance this agenda the UK will attach an officer of the Inland Revenue’s Special Compliance Office to the Economic Crimes Unit of the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS), which is responsible for analysing and allocating reports of suspected money laundering. These arrangements will allow domestic and international money laundering intelligence to flow to the Inland Revenue for the first time.