NEW YORK — The latest Panama Papers data dump has exposed the extent of the offshore industry in the United Kingdom, exposing how many of the country’s top politicians and bureaucrats have their own private wealth stashed offshore, a new report says.
The British parliament voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to approve a law that will require foreign owners to disclose any assets they hold offshore, according to the UK’s Sunday Times newspaper.
The law was approved in an effort to make Britain’s tax laws fairer and more transparent, and is expected to be put into effect on March 1.
The legislation has been described by the BBC as the biggest overhaul of British corporate governance laws since the global financial crisis of 2008.
It was backed by former Prime Minister David Cameron, who had campaigned on a pledge to cut taxes on the rich.
The bill is the culmination of a major overhaul of Britain’s corporate governance in recent years that aims to reduce the number of tax havens, and to encourage firms to disclose their ownership and tax affairs, the BBC reported.
It’s also expected to make the U.K. more transparent about its tax policies, the report said.
The bill would also set out rules for offshore companies that operate outside the United States.
Britain’s top officials have been quick to criticize the Panama papers, which the British government has said is an attempt to smear them as part of an international conspiracy.
But the government has refused to acknowledge that any of its ministers or politicians had personal wealth staked offshore, and the government is not expected to release details of how many taxpayers have stashed assets offshore, or whether the bill would require companies to reveal such information.
The new law comes as Britain’s biggest financial institutions are under pressure from investors to slash their tax bills in an attempt, in part, to comply with a crackdown on money laundering.
The European Union has also stepped up its efforts to curb tax evasion, the Associated Press reported.