G20 support for a single set of
standards and pledges to crack down on tax havens have been broadly
welcomed by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and
Wales (ICAEW) and European tax group Confédération Fiscale
Européenne (CFE).

The communiqué of world leaders from their
April meeting called on accounting standard setters and regulators
to improve standards on the valuation of financial instruments and
provisioning, and to achieve a single set of high-quality global

ICAEW head of financial reporting Nigel
Sleigh-Johnson said despite concerns about certain aspects of
financial reporting in the financial crisis, the support for
co-operation between the International Accounting Standards Board
(IASB) and US Financial Accounting Standards Board to produce one
set of global standards was clear.

“In a way it is a vote of confidence for the
IASB. It might have a lot of caveats but it is really of quite
fundamental importance,” he said

Sleigh-Johnson added that the emphasis on one
set of standards would not go unnoticed by jurisdictions,
particularly the US, that are looking to move to IFRS.

“The US Securities and Exchange Commission
have a lot of factors to consider, apart from the convergence
issue,” he said. “They will have taken note that the G20 is
generally behind this move to a single set of standards and
hopefully that will encourage them to make some positive

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The G20 leaders also issued a declaration
calling on uncooperative tax havens, blacklisted by the
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, to adopt
the international standard for information exchange. CFE president
Stephen Coleclough said the declaration to increase the sharing of
bank information was more significant than naming and shaming
blacklisted countries.

“[The declaration] is going to force people
who rely on obfuscation and lack of transparency to re-appraise
their whole environment and come into the mainstream. It is
levelling the playing field across the world so that everybody
knows what everybody’s got and where they are,” he said.