Britain's tax havens told to deliver timetable on central register

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s government has told two of its offshore financial tax havens to set out timetables for implementing a central register of companies revealing corporate ownership, in a bid to help combat tax evasion.

Prime Minister David Cameron proposed plans for a public register of company ownership in 2013, during a G8 summit in Northern Ireland, which was met with opposition by the overseas territories who said it would damage the UK’s interests.

A Treasury spokeswoman confirmed that letters had been sent to the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands on Friday, asking the overseas territories to meet their commitments to a central register and set out timetables.

The letters, signed by Financial Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke and Foreign Officer Minister James Duddridge, were sent a day after Britain’s own legislation to improve transparency around corporate ownership gained royal assent.

Companies will now be required to keep a register of individuals with significant financial control from January next year and will be publicly accessible by April 2016.

Reporting by Li-mei Hoang; Editing by Stephen Powell