Yesterday I delivered over 35,000 signatures to Dr Vince Cable MP in London, asking him to crack down on phantom firms, and make information about who owns and controls companies and trusts available to the public.
He’s the minister in charge of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and leading the government’s crucial decision on this issue in the next few days and weeks.
We were both well prepared. I came armed with letters from our members (you lot) in response to the consultation his department ran on the issue and a personalised comic strip. We even made Strictly Come Dancing style voting boards to show the number of ONE members who have signed our phantom firms petition so far. I offered to give him a “10” but even he was nervous to take the credit for a public register just yet.
Vince came along with this message:
“It is important that information about who owns and controls companies is available to law enforcement and tax authorities. Sunlight is the best disinfectant preventing companies from being misused for tax evasion, money laundering and corruption.
The UK believes collective, global action is needed to drive transparency about company beneficial ownership but we are also committed to leading by example by taking forward ambitious reform. We will create a central registry of company beneficial ownership information and we are consulting on whether the information should also be made available publicly, as we recognise the potential benefits of that.”
With thousands of signatures on the petition and hundreds of responses to the consultation it seems clear to me that the information should be public.
So Vince, if you take care of the UK I promise we’ll do everything we can – along with our 3 million members worldwide – to get the rest of the world on board too.
And we’ll all enjoy a bit of sunlight.