The UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain yesterday agreed to share data and co-operate on exposing shell firms and overseas trusts. Under the new deal, the five nations will exchange information regarding beneficial ownership registers and will also create new registers of financial trusts. The new rules are designed to be a “hammer blow” against tax evasion in direct response to the Panama papers leak. The agreement was announced at joint press conference of the finance ministers of the five countries at the IMF and will come into effect in January 2017. The UK government has also announced the launch of a new cross-government taskforce to deal with the revelations emerging from the Panama papers. The taskforce will be jointly led by HMRC and the National Crime Agency (NCA) and will draw on investigators, compliance specialists and analysts from HMRC, the NCA, the SFO and the FCA. The taskforce is required to report its progress to the Chancellor and Home Secretary later this year.