The British government has rejected calls by lawmakers to impose more-stringent corporate transparency standards on U.K. overseas territories and dependencies, claiming that the jurisdictions are already "well ahead" of other international tax havens.
The British government should compel its offshore territories and dependencies to publicly disclose corporate ownership data in a bid to prevent tax avoidance, a parliamentary group said in a report Thursday.
British businesses must collect and store data on their beneficial owners as of Wednesday, under a milestone deadline for the U.K.'s plan to launch a public register aimed at improving corporate transparency.
The leak of millions of records purporting to show widespread exploitation of offshore financial centers by global leaders, lenders and criminals is expected to draw governmental scrutiny of illicit finance, however unevenly.
U.K. lawmakers are considering drafting legislation to force the nation's overseas territories to make corporate ownership data more readily available to investigators, according to sources.
Britain needs to increase its number of experienced investigators and banking compliance examiners and adopt stronger legislation to improve lax anti-money laundering efforts in its overseas territories, according to a government report.