Accounting firms are being asked to disclose to the U.S. government confidential information on clients based in tax havens, following the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.
PricewaterhouseCoopers, KPMG, and others may face punitive sanctions if they refuse to cooperate. The British and American governments are attempting to eradicate offshore corporate and banking secrecy.
A U.S. Treasury official commented that global accounting firms, who look after thousands of offshore trusts and audit thousands of offshore companies, are likely to hold information on suspect offshore entities.
The official added that no evidence had been found linking Osama Bin Laden, a key terrorist, to any of the Big Five accounting firms.
Meanwhile, the British Financial Action Task Force has an emergency meeting this month to consider U.S. calls for a swift, joint effort to ensure the prevention of terrorists hiding money in anonymous bank accounts and shell companies offshore. The UK has a key role to play due to its close relationship with the major tax havens such as the Channel Islands and Grand Cayman.