The UK will bring forward plans to introduce a criminal offence for corporations who fail to stop their staff facilitating tax evasion, the Prime Minister will announce today in a statement to the Commons, ahead of next month’s summit to tackle corruption in all its forms.
For the first time, companies will be held criminally liable if they fail to stop their employees from facilitating tax evasion. At the March 2015 Budget the Chancellor said the government would be delivering on its pledge to introduce the measure in this Parliament. Today the Prime Minister is confirming that the offence will be introduced in legislation this year.
The move is part of the government’s efforts to clamp down on corruption in all walks of life. The government has already confirmed plans to create a cross-agency taskforce to investigate all evidence of illegality that has emerged from the so-called ‘Panama Papers’.
Prime Minister David Cameron said:
This government has done more than any other to take action against corruption in all its forms, but we will go further.
That is why we will legislate this year to hold companies who fail to stop their employees facilitating tax evasion criminally liable.
On 12 May, the Prime Minister will host the London Anti-Corruption Summit aimed at stepping up global action to expose, punish and drive out corruption in all walks of life.
The summit will seek to galvanise a global response to tackle corruption. As well as agreeing a package of actions to tackle corruption across the board, it will deal with issues including corporate secrecy, government transparency, the enforcement of international anti-corruption laws, and the strengthening of international institutions.
It will be the first summit of its kind, bringing together world leaders, business and civil society to agree a package of practical steps to:
- expose corruption so there is nowhere to hide;
- punish the perpetrators and support those affected by corruption;
- drive out the culture of corruption wherever it exists
The new criminal offence will build on the government’s existing record in tackling tax evasion, and corruption more broadly. Since 2010, the government has:
- led the way on tackling tax evasion and tax avoidance, bringing in more than £2 billion from offshore tax evaders;
- been the first member of the G20 to establish a public central registry of company beneficial ownership information which will go live in June 2016, and pushed its G7 and G20 partners to do the same;
- introduced some of the world’s strictest legislation on bribery through the Bribery Act 2010, making it a criminal offence for a company to fail to prevent a bribe being paid,
- co-chaired a UN panel that put tackling corruption at the heart of the new UN Development Goals and transformed the way the international community fights poverty