David Cameron leads summit to end "cancer" of corruption

Six nations – Ireland not included – agree to publish registers of who really owns companies...

David Cameron leads summit to end "cancer" of corruption

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron arrives for the Anti-Corruption Summit in London. Picture by: Frank Augstein / AP/Press Association Images

David Cameron hosted US Secretary of State John Kerry and other global leaders at a landmark anti-corruption summit in London today.

This included officials from Nigeria and Afghanistan, who Cameron had told Elizabeth II were "the two most corrupt countries in the world" while being filmed this week.

Cameron called corruption "the cancer at the heart of so many of the problems we need to tackle in our world", while Kerry argued it was a bigger problem than terrorism.

"We are fighting a battle," Kerry said. "All of us. Corruption, writ large, is as much of an enemy, because it destroys nation states, as some of the extremists we are fighting or the other challenges we face".

Six countries – Britain, Afghanistan, Kenya, France, the Netherland and Nigeria – have signed up to a public register of beneficial ownership, so citizens can see who really controls companies in their territories.

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald was in attendance, to "reaffirm Ireland's commitment to the international response to corruption".

It is currently intended that Ireland will establish a Central Register for Beneficial Ownership information on Companies and on Trusts as part of the transposition of EU legislation.

However, consideration is still being given to the level of access the public will have to it.

The US was one of the countries not to sign up to the pledge, though Cameron said he would continue to push the Americans to become more accountable.

Allan Bell, chief minister of the Isle of Man, said real progress was impossible without the US making its own tax havens more open.

Eleven countries joined a now 29-strong group where lists of beneficial owners will be shared between governments, but not publicly. These included the Cayman Islands, the Isle of Man and the UAE.

There was criticism, too, concerning the British territories that weren't there.

Bermuda and the Cayman Islands were represented but the likes of the British Virgin Islands and Panama, which lent its name to those infamous papers, were not.