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Britain presses territories on tax action before G8 summit

Britain's Prime Minister, David Cameron leaves number 10 Downing Street in central London June 14, 2013. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth
Britain's Prime Minister, David Cameron leaves number 10 Downing Street in central London June 14, 2013. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron will press its overseas tax havens to sign up to an international transparency treaty in London on Saturday, hoping to bolster British credibility ahead of next week's G8 summit.

Britain is looking to ensure its self-governing regions, some of which are world-leading tax havens, are taking action to improve information sharing before Cameron meets leaders of the Group of Eight (G8) major economies to push for coordinated global action on tax avoidance and evasion.

A government statement said Cameron would be asking 10 territories and self-governing regions to sign up to the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Assistance in Tax Matters - an initiative led by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

"He will argue that there is no point in dealing with tax evasion in one country if the problem is simply displaced to another," a government statement released ahead of the talks said.

Bermuda, one of Britain's overseas territories said on Thursday it had agreed to back the OECD treaty, which is signed by more than 50 countries and requires them to share information on individuals who hold bank accounts in their jurisdictions.

The Prime Minister is also seeking agreement from the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Gibraltar, Anguilla, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos Islands, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.

Cameron will also use a pre-G8 conference later in the day to set out the importance of breaking down complicated offshore tax structures in tackling corruption and helping developing countries collect revenues.

Global tax evasion could be costing more than $3 trillion a year according to researchers from Tax Justice Network while as much as $32 trillion - twice the size of U.S. gross domestic product - could be hidden by individuals in tax havens

"Corruption is wrong. It starves the poor. It poisons the system. It saps the faith of people in progress. It wrecks the case for aid," Cameron will say.

"But by ending the era of tax secrecy and driving real openness over what governments and businesses do it can change."

(Reporting by William James; Editing by Michael Roddy)

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