US Must Stop Anonymous Shell Companies

Make states collect information: Cyrus Vance Jr
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 9, 2012 1:30 PM CDT
A bill in Congress would make it harder for criminals to set up anonymous shell corporations.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – One nation in particular makes it easy for criminals to set up phony corporations and hide their trails, writes New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. at Reuters. Some obscure island? Think much closer to home, as in the United States. In every state except Maine and Alaska, it's a breeze to set up an anonymous shell company to launder money and gain access to the world banking system.

"An anonymous company in Nevada may be owned by another in Delaware, which is owned by a trust in the Cayman Islands, and so on," writes Vance. It's ridiculous the US lets this happen given how many times a "follow-the-money" investigation leads to a dead end. What to do? Vance is pushing a bill now in Congress called the Incorporation Transparency and Law Enforcement Assistance Act. The premise is simple: States must collect information on anyone who owns or runs a corporation, and fictional characters need not apply.

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