A law making companies publicly declare who their true owners are is set to be launched in the Queen's Speech as part of the Government's crackdown on tax evasion, it has emerged.
Business Secretary Vince Cable confirmed ministers are ready to go ahead with plans for an open, publicly available register of beneficial ownership of firms in a drive against what he called the "darker side of capitalism".
The move will be popular with anti-poverty campaigners, who have long argued the world's poorest countries lose out on billions in tax revenue because firms use shadowy "shell companies" to shield profits.
David Cameron announced last October that the register - which he originally proposed as part of Britain's chairmanship of the G8 - would be made available to the public as well as to tax authorities - a key demand of the campaigners.
Firms registered in Britain will be required to supply information on individuals with an interest in more than 25% of the shares or voting rights, to a central register held and maintained by Companies House.