11 May 2016 - Christian Aid today called on Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald to put the new government's best foot forward at a major international Anti-Corruption Summit in London, by announcing plans to demand real transparency from phantom and shell companies based in Ireland.
Ms Fitzgerald is attending the summit, which is being hosted by David Cameron on Thursday. The event has taken on added significance in the light of the Panama Papers, and has increased pressure on the UK Prime Minister to deliver tangible results.
Head of Advocacy and Policy at Christian Aid, Sorley McCaughey said:
'If his anti-corruption summit this week is to have any credibility, then David Cameron must use it to announce an end to secrecy in UK tax havens, which is causing ruin around the world. Over half of the companies named in the Panama Papers are registered in UK tax havens. Mr Cameron should start by insisting that the UK tax havens immediately introduce a public register of the true owners of companies listed there. Anything else will be a regarded as a shameful failure to act.'
Mr McCaughey also urged Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald to announce the government’s intention to join the growing list of countries that have committed to introducing a public register.
'Ireland is already obliged under European legislation to introduce a register of beneficial owners of companies, but given all we now know post-Panama, we see no reason why Ireland shouldn't follow the UK's example, and make that register publicly accessible.'
[The UK already has committed to introducing a public register for companies listed in the UK - but crucially not in their Overseas Territories or Crown Dependencies.]
'This is the first opportunity for the new government to respond to the growing public demand for greater transparency from companies and individuals in tax matters.
'Given the extent of international criticism to which Irish tax policy is subjected, the opportunity for the government to enjoy some praise by announcing the introduction of a public register of the beneficial owners of companies should not be missed', concluded Mr McCaughey.
For more information contact Sorley McCaughey on 087 0620 062 or Barry Turley on (+44) 0 77 3425 6318.
Notes to editors:
1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 40 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.
2. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended: this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, and sustainably. Our strategy document ‘From Inspiration to Impact’ outlines how we set about this task.
3. Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development. Further details at http://actalliance.org
4. Follow Christian Aid Ireland on Twitter: twitter.com/christianaidirl
5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid, visit www.christianaid.ie