UK Prime Minister lines up with Obama to put an end to tax havens

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, speaking in Washington, said the global economy would be more secure if tax havens and the shadow banking system was outlawed. Brown said:

"How much safer would everybody’s savings be if the whole world finally came together to outlaw shadow banking systems and offshore tax havens?"

He was addressing the U.S. Congress in a speech on 4 March.

The Brown speech comes after the Obama administration endorsed legislation to crack down on offshore tax havens earlier this week. Obama's Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner said:

"We fully support the legislation ... on offshore tax centers, and we look forward to working with you as part of the broader effort to address international tax evasion." Geithner was speaking to the US Congresss' House Ways and Means Committee.

The Obama administration's support greatly improves the chances of offshore tax legislation becoming U.S. law this year, said Michigan Senator Carl Levin, chief sponsor of the Senate bill.

The U.S. government last month sued Swiss banking giant UBS to try to obtain the names of thousands of its rich U.S. clients.

The UK government is currently undertaking a review of its offshore financial centres.

France's president, Nicolas Sarkozy, also supports the move. "We want to put a stop to tax havens," he said recently. "We want results on this, with a list of tax havens and a series of consequences."