From Lalit K Jha Washington, Apr 15 (PTI) Acting in the wake of the 'Panama Papers' scandal, the G20 economies, including India, today sought a crackdown on tax heavens, shell companies and terror financing by increasing financial transparency and sharing of key information in a timely manner.
A communique in this regard was issued by G20 countries after meeting of its Finance Ministers and Governors of Central Banks here on the sidelines of the annual Spring Meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley and the Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan attended the meeting on behalf of India.
For India a crackdown on tax heavens and shell companies is a top priority, particularly in the aftermath of the release of 'Panama Papers' that have thrown up 500 names of Indians having opened up shell companies overseas allegedly to evade taxes.
"The G20 reiterates the high priority it attaches to financial transparency and effective implementation of the standards on transparency by all, in particular with regard to the beneficial ownership of legal persons and legal arrangements," the G20 communique said.
Improving the transparency of the beneficial ownership of legal persons and legal arrangements is vital to protect the integrity of the international financial system and to prevent misuse of these entities and arrangements for corruption, tax evasion, terror financing and money laundering, the communique said.
In the communique, the G20 Finance Ministers reiterated that it is essential that all countries and jurisdictions fully implement the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) standards on transparency and beneficial ownership of legal persons and legal arrangements and expressed determination to lead by example in this regard.
"We particularly stress the importance of countries and jurisdictions improving the availability of beneficial ownership information to and its international exchange between, competent authorities for the purposes of tackling tax evasion, terrorist financing and money laundering," the communique said.
"We ask the FATF and the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes to make initial proposals by our October meeting on ways to improve the implementation of the international standards on transparency, including on the availability of beneficial ownership information and its international exchange," it said.
Seeking a crackdown on terror financing, the G20 Finance Ministers called on all countries to join its efforts including through swift and effective implementation of FATF standards, the new Consolidated Strategy on Combating Terrorist Financing and provisions of the UN Security Council Resolution 2253.