LONDON, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Britain's opposition Labour party will demand that British tax havens are put on an international blacklist unless they clamp down on tax avoidance, leader Ed Miliband said, promising action if he wins May's election.
Miliband, whose party is level in the polls with Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservatives, said British self-governing overseas territories such as Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Jersey, and Guernsey would be given six months after any Labour victory to comply or face action. "A Labour government is not going to have endless consultation and dithering," he told the Guardian newspaper in an interview published on Saturday.
His comments come as Labour attempted to hit back at a series of accusations by the Conservatives and some business figures that the party is anti-business and could not be trusted to run the economy.
"We are going to give six months to these tax havens to agree to publish a register of beneficial ownership, and if they do not act we will recommend to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development) that they are put on a blacklist," Miliband said.
The Cayman Islands and other British overseas territories have become major international financial centres thanks to low taxation, light-touch regulation and limited requirements for those who invest there to disclose their business.
In June 2013, Cameron asked 10 territories and self-governing regions to sign up to the OECD's Multilateral Convention on Mutual Assistance in Tax Matters, which requires them to share information on individuals who hold bank accounts in their jurisdictions.
Miliband said Cameron's bid for greater transparency to stamp out the use of offshore havens to launder money and hide wealth had failed, so he was sending a letter to the British territories to warn them of his intentions. "The way we change the country and tax avoidance internationally is through the power of example," he said.
"We are not going to hang back and wait for others to act." "What I am saying is what the Archbishop of Canterbury has been saying, the International Monetary Fund has been saying and the OECD has been saying - a more equal society is a more efficient society," he said. "For that to be portrayed as anti-business is ridiculous."