British Prime Minister David Cameron is preparing to set the stage with money laundering and tax evasion front and center. The Prime Minister plans to make public a new database of company ownership details designed to expose international money laundering and tax evasion schemes.
By making the information public the government hopes to allow broader criticism of and a more focused eye on firms and individuals that would seek to hide wealth and profits. The "beneficial ownership register" exceeds the current registration of corporations and shareholders by making clear ownership structures that have been deliberately tangled in an attempt to conceal the identities of those who would use low-tax regimes overseas to reduce tax bills.
"For too long a small minority have hidden their business dealings behind a complicated web of shell companies - and this cloak of secrecy has fueled all manners of questionable practice and downright illegality," Cameron will say at a conference in London later in the day.
"It's better for us all to have an open system which everyone has access to - the more eyes that look at this information, the more accurate it will be."
"This sets such an important global principle... You have to have someone who makes a stand on principle and then gets the world to follow. In this case it's the UK," said Gavin Hayman of the anti-corruption group Global Witness.
Cameron hopes that other countries will follow suite.