David Cameron‘s hopes of securing at the G8 summit next week a major anti-corruption agreement that would force companies to reveal who really owns them is hanging by a thread, amid fierce opposition from both the Russian and Canadian governments, as well as from many members of the US Congress.
The prime minister believes new rules to make company ownership transparent are crucial, and has made it a key goal of UK diplomacy as he prepares to chair the gathering of world leaders which begins a week tomorrow. However, the Observer understands that goal is now in jeopardy, opening up the possibility that there will be no deal endorsed by all parties, a potentially embarrassing result for the UK as summit chair.
However, aid agencies now fear Cameron’s plan risks being derailed by other G8 members. Russia is resisting because of its extensive interests in Cyprus. Canada is also opposed, while many US politicians are against the plan because it would have an impact on Delaware, the low-tax, light regulation US state where some 200,000 companies are registered.
The impasse is considered so serious by Number 10 that Cameron is to discuss the issue with President Obama in a transatlantic phone call later this week.
It is understood UK diplomats have been instructed to continue pushing the proposal right up to the summit, even if it risks the UK failing to get a deal. “We are concerned not all countries are going to sign up,” said Robert Palmer of campaign group Global Witness. “This is about the world’s biggest economies saying ‘we are going to get our houses in order’.”