Published: 12:47pm, 9th June 2013 Updated: 2:54pm, 9th June 2013
British tax havens are “sunny places for shady people”, Business Secretary Vince Cable said, as he conceded that Government powers to stop tax avoidance are limited.
The Lib Dem Business Secretary was commenting a day after it emerged that telephone giant Vodafone had not paid corporation tax in the UK for the second year running.
“The Government is introducing this general anti-avoidance principle, which shifts the burden of proof somewhat and helps the Inland Revenue deal with these cases [of tax avoidance],” he said.
He said the coalition was also looking at introducing a Register of Beneficial Ownership, which could force individuals and companies to disclose any benefits they receive from assets registered under a different name.
However, he told Sky’s Murnaghan programme that without a collective, international response, any efforts to deal with tax avoidance were “limited”.
“These are limited necessarily, because in a very complex world companies shift their profits and payments in a way that are very, very opaque, so you have to have tough international rules and the G8 might well take us forward in that.”
Mr Cable would not, however, say which British territories he was referring to when he said: “You could say there are sunny places for shady people and quite a few of them are British independent territories.”
On the economy, Mr Cable was cautious about sounding too optimistic.
“It would be very foolish to talk about green shoots and recovery,” he said in the interview. “Politicians can make fools of themselves by talking like that.”
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Cable critical over tax havens