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Gibraltar ‘walks tall’ at anti-corruption summit

Prime Minister Cameron is joined by Jim Yong Kim, President of the World Bank Group, (left) Sarah Chayes, a senior associate in the Democracy and Rule of Law Program, (second left) US Secretary of State John Kerry, (third from left) and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, (right), as he opens the Anti-Corruption summit held at Lancaster House, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday May 12, 2016. See PA story POLITICS Corruption. Photo credit should read: Dan Kitwood/PA Wire

Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday used an anti-corruption summit to defend the progress made by Britain’s Overseas Territories toward improving tax transparency.

He made the statement as he hailed the event as "the biggest demonstration of the political will to address corruption that we have seen for many, many years".

Mr Cameron has faced criticism from campaigners for failing to take stronger action against tax havens in British Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies.

But he told the summit that they had "moved a huge amount of distance" in terms of transparency and all of them had committed to having registers of beneficial ownership, with most also agreeing to the automatic exchange of information with other countries.”

"That puts them ahead of many developed countries and even states inside the United States of America in terms of what they are prepared to do,” he said.

"So, it has been an easy target for the press and campaigners and other countries indeed to point at the overseas territories and Crown Dependencies in the past.”

"I think it is quite difficult to do that now because they have raised their game to the extent that the OECD has said that they have shown exemplary leadership in this.”

Listening to him in the audience was Chief Minister Fabian Picardo, who had been invited to the summit by Mr Cameron.

Ahead of the conference, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond had held up Gibraltar as an example in the drive toward tax transparency and described Mr Picardo as “one of the good guys”.

Yesterday the Chief Minister, who was assisted by James Tipping, the Finance Centre Director, was able to speak to heads of delegation from the nations and territories attending the summit.

Gibraltar was held up as one of the jurisdictions which had led in the establishment of new global standards for the exchange of information and which will be adopting a central register of beneficial ownership.

“There is not one single international initiative on exchange of information, transparency, beneficial ownership or bribery and corruption that we have not supported or committed to,” the Chief Minister said.

“That means that we can walk tall when summits such as this are convened and we can be proud of the manner in which we run our financial services industry to the most exacting international standards.”

“We can also show that our financial services industry has continued to grow in this period and prosper and our GDP has consistently shown growth.”

“That is the experience we can share with others about how we have achieved our well-deserved excellent reputation for transparency in financial services.”

The Chief Minister said Gibraltar's formula and philosophy for economic success across all areas of commercial activity stemmed from a focus on quality, regulation and reputation.

He said compliance with international standards formed an integral part of the Rock’s philosophy.

“For this reason, Gibraltar attended the first OECD Global forum on Transparency in 1999 and has attended and supported every annual event since then,” he added.

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