Over on The Guardian website, Vince Cable writes:
Tax avoidance, sham directors, money laundering: the recent Guardian investigation made sobering reading. In the UK we are proud that it is easier and cheaper to set up a company here than just about anywhere in the world. This flexibility is hugely valued by the start-ups and small companies which create a significant proportion of our wealth and jobs, and which are vital to recovery from the latest recession. But this flexibility provides a challenge: how do we stop our system from being abused by people who want to use it to dodge tax or to launder the proceeds of crime?…
The government takes breaches of the law seriously. Last year we disqualified more than 1,100 directors, including people who were not formally registered or appointed as directors and shadow directors. We also wound up 355 companies in the public interest and pursued many others for tax evasion and other offences. We are investigating the allegations against the individuals and companies made by the Guardian and Panorama and, where there is a strong legal case, we will take action. We are also reviewing our legal and enforcement priorities to ensure that we are focusing resources on the most serious abuses. Concerns have been raised about the potential abuse of arrangements for hidden ownership, and I am attracted to the idea of increasing transparency to prevent the concealment of corporate control. Where there is flagrant abuse of corporate entities, we will seek to tackle it.
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