David Cameron has called on the Crown Dependencies and the Overseas Territories to help “knock down the walls” of corporate secrecy by drawing up plans to catalogue the true ownership and control of every company.

In letters written to the leaders of the offshore financial centres, Mr Cameron said it was “the critical moment to get our own houses in order” ahead of next month’s G8 summit which is set to focus on fighting aggressive tax avoidance and evasion.

He called on the islands to develop plans for centralised registries, that would be freely available to law enforcement and tax collectors, which would contain full and accurate details on the true ownership and control of every company.

He welcomed the commitments they had made on automatic tax information exchange, adding that there was “critical mass building” in reaching a global standard in tax transparency.

But as well as exchanging information, it was necessary to improve the quality and accuracy of the information. “Put simply, that means we need to know who really owns and controls each and every company,” he said.

The letters, urging leaders to continue to work with the UK in taking the lead on tax information exchange and beneficial ownership, were sent to leaders of Bermuda, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Gibraltar, Anguilla. Montserrat, Turks and Caicos Islands, Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.

Last month, Mr Cameron said he hoped G8 leaders would consider setting out concrete steps towards greater transparency of beneficial ownership, such as establishing central public company registries.

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