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New report calls for Britain to investigate BVI and other tax havens
Published on May 13, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Caribbean News Now contributor

LONDON, England -- An unpublished two-year investigation by anti-corruption experts says the UK should launch a major investigation into the use of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and other tax havens by "high-risk" sectors such as Indonesian forestry, Britain’s Observer newspaper reported.

The report follows a court case in Jakarta in which one of the world's largest palm oil companies, owned by billionaire Sukanto Tanoto, was fined US$205 million after being shown to have evaded taxes by using shell companies in the British overseas territory and elsewhere. The company has agreed to pay the fines.

Documents in the case showed that Tanoto's company, Asian Agri, systematically produced fake invoices and fake hedging contracts to evade more than $100 million in taxes, the Observer reported.

According to evidence in the matter, the company was engaged in "routine and systematic fraudulent accounting and book-keeping practices" using British jurisdictions.

A cache of leaked documents obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists showed last year that nine of Indonesia's 11 richest families had used offshore tax havens, including the BVI.

"Powerful forest and palm oil conglomerates have set up shell companies in the BVI, Cayman Islands and Bermuda, but lack of transparency – including public access to the names of the actual owners of shell companies – makes it difficult for governments to monitor the legality of their activities," said Stephanie Fried of the Ulu Foundation, a US organisation that tracks international financial flows. "Clearly, a full international investigation is needed not only by Indonesian authorities, but also by those in the BVI, the UK and other jurisdictions."

A British government spokesperson said: "The government put tax and transparency at the heart of the UK's G8 presidency. As a result, the UK's overseas territories are consulting on establishing a central registry of beneficial ownership and on whether it should be publicly accessible. We believe a registry of this kind would provide the best outcome for sound corporate behaviour and for helping authorities, including those in developing countries, prevent misuse of companies for illicit purposes."
 
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Comments:

Mona Benge:

thank you for posting this. Mr. Tanoto's RGE through several layers of corps. is proposing to build a floating LNG plant in Howe Sound where I live. This is a tourist mecca for people all over the world and LNG is a hazardous industry with no place in a narrow inland waterway. I appreciate this information.


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