Pulling Shell Corporations Out of the Shadows
by Gavin Baker
Sep 5, 2012
A letter to the editor of The New York Times earlier this week aptly alerted the country to the dangers of anonymous shell corporations, which serve as shadowy pathways for moving money around the globe. Heather Lowe of Global Financial Integrity explained that the secrecy surrounding such corporations enables and encourages a host of illegal behavior:
In most states, less information is required to create a corporation than to obtain a driver’s license, and there is no requirement to disclose who owns or controls it. Such secrecy enables terrorist cells, drug traffickers and corrupt government leaders to launder money through the United States to finance illicit activities.
Anonymous shell corporations also facilitate tax evasion, thereby reducing government revenues, which is particularly destabilizing for the world economy when foreigners use anonymous American shell companies to evade taxes in their home countries.
Currently, about two million corporations register themselves in the U.S. each year. We have no idea who owns or ultimately controls a large portion of them. To prevent the abuses that shell corporations allow, Congress should pass a bill pending before the House and Senate (the Incorporation Transparency and Law Enforcement Assistance Act). The legislation would disrupt the shell game of money laundering through these corporations by prompting disclosure of information about the people who control or own companies and eliminating anonymous shell corporations. This would be a positive move that would increase corporate transparency and strike a blow against crime and corruption worldwide.back to Blog