Michael Foot says tax transparency, liability and financial supervision will be the central themes of his review of British offshore financial centres.
In a progress report, Foot says his independent review will also examine crisis management at Britain's Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories, particularly the tools they have in place to deal with the "consequences of the failure of a major firm".
Foot's brief is to explore the long-term opportunities and challenges facing Britain's offshore centres in the wake of the collapse of the Icelandic banks and other controversies.
Overseas Territories including the Cayman Islands and Gibraltar have come under fire recently from members of the G20, who are seeking to impose measures to crack down on cases of tax avoidance and evasion.
However, as some commentators have pointed out, Foot's review appears a more "measured" examination of the offshore centres' plight.
The interim report summarises initial discussions with the centres on topics including:
- Financial supervision and transparency
- Taxation in relation to financial stability, sustainability and future competitiveness
- Financial Crisis management and resolution arrangements
- International cooperation
"Defining and understanding the implications of these mutual dependencies and any related contingent liabilities will be a key theme of my review," says Foot.
He praises the offshore centres' "willingness to match developing international standards," with regards to tax transparency and says the regulatory regimes have received favourable reviews from the IMF.
Foot says the next stage of the review will involve a wider consultation and is inviting contributions from interested parties.
He says the review will consider:
- The degree of interdependence between the financial centres and the UK
- The impact on the financial centres and on the UK if the prospects of some or all of them are adversely affected
- Whether the way in which the UK and the regulatory authorities in each financial centre currently interrelate might be changed to the benefit of both parties
He adds further details of when the review will be concluded and its framework will be available in due course.
Additional details about the consultation process can be found at: www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/ofcreview
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