What happened after the Panama Papers?
Christian Aid campaigner Ashley Lamprell explains what’s happened since the Panama Papers and how the UK government responded to your calls for action.
Together, we made a lot of noise last month following the Panama Papers story and ahead of the Anti-Corruption Summit in London. Before world leaders gathered, we wanted to be sure David Cameron knew that ending secrecy in the UK’s tax havens was a vital part of tackling corruption.
So campaigners from almost 20 organisations, including Action Aid, Oxfam, Transparency International, Global Witness, ONE and 38 Degrees came together. We delivered 258,889 signatures to No.10 calling on the Prime Minister to finally make transparency in the UK’s tax havens (places like the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands and Bermuda) a reality.
When the Panama Papers stories broke in April, thousands of Christian Aid supporters called on the Prime Minister to take action on tax dodging and in particular on phantom firms.
The Anti-Corruption Summit was a key moment for action on those shady firms, and thanks to your actions there were some small steps forward.
A small number of countries, including Kenya and Nigeria, committed themselves to creating public registers of company ownership — following the UK’s lead back in 2015. With more countries doing this, there is huge momentum towards these higher levels of transparency right across the world. Progress is now a case of when - not if - thanks to your work.
However, the UK failed to deliver public registers in the tax havens it controls.
This failure in relation to the UK’s tax havens is disappointing, for the last three years, Mr Cameron has urged them to establish public registers.
Such open registers would more effectively tackle corruption than any private ones. Public registers would also allow women and men in the developing world to find out which, if any, of their fellow citizens were behind companies in UK tax havens.
Despite having the power to achieve more, the Prime Minister agreed to a compromise which means that crucial information about companies’ true owners will remain hidden.
After the Summit, the Prime Minister responded to us, and hundreds of thousands of other campaigners, encouraging us to stay a part of the process. Have a look:
Whilst we missed an excellent chance to insist on transparency in UK tax havens, there was some progress towards greater transparency around the world.
The political and media attention that the papers and then the summit garnered is also very helpful to our cause. We will of course continue to find opportunities to influence and call for increased transparency of tax havens . Thank you for strengthening that call!