Britain joins forces with Germany, France, Italy and Spain to clamp down on tax evasion

The announcement comes in light of the leak of thousands of confidential documents called the Panama Papers

George Osborne heralded the deal as a 'hammer blow against tax dodgers'
George Osborne heralded the deal as a 'hammer blow against tax dodgers'

Britain has joined forces with France, Germany, Italy and Spain to clamp down on tax evasion and corruption in the biggest effort yet to stop the rich and powerful stashing money away from the taxman in offshore accounts.

The announcement comes in light of the leak of thousands of confidential documents, the Panama Papers, detailing the secretive accounting methods used by some of the world's most powerful people to avoid paying tax.

The Chancellor George Osborne said: "Britain will work with our European partners to share data on ultimate owners of firms to strike another hammer blow against tax dodgers.

"This agreement will help expose the secretive shell companies and trusts used to evade tax, launder money and hide proceeds of corruption."

The international deal will make it harder for business and wealthy individuals to operate without paying correct taxes, the Treasury said.

The countries will now automatically exchange information on the "beneficial owners" of companies and trusts, including information that pertains to more secretive countries such as America, China and Saudi Arabia.

The exchange will take the form of a register detailing those benefiting from companies, trusts, foundations and shell companies, in a coordinated effort for better transparency on money kept overseas.

The announcement was made on Thursday under the watch of Christine Lagarde, IMF managing director, and José Ángel Gurría, head of the OECD.

They will now push for the rest of the G20 nations to follow their lead.

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