In February, Dallas police busted a ring of illicit massage parlors. Four people were arrested on charges of aggravated promotion of prostitution at three locations in Dallas, Lewisville and Commerce. While the case is ongoing, detectives reported that many of the women working at the parlors may have been victims of human trafficking.
On Aug. 5, the United Nations Security Council voted to pass powerful new sanctions on North Korea. If successfully enforced, the new sanctions could deal a significant blow to the regime, cutting off as much as its foreign currency supply. But if sanctions are going to have any effect on the North Korean regime, we cannot continue to leave open critical loopholes that allow them to launder money and get around the sanctions.
For criminals moving large sums of dirty money internationally, there is no better device than an untraceable shell company. This paper reports the results of an experiment soliciting offers for these prohibited anonymous shell corporations. Our research team impersonated a variety of low- and high-risk customers, including would-be money launderers, corrupt officials, and terrorist financiers when requesting the anonymous companies. Evidence is drawn from more than 7,400 email solicitations to more than 3,700 Corporate Service Providers that make and sell shell companies in 182 countries. The experiment allows us to test whether international rules are actually effective when they mandate that those selling shell companies must collect identity documents from their customers. Shell companies that cannot be traced back to their real owners are one of the most common means for laundering money, giving and receiving bribes, busting sanctions, evading taxes, and financing terrorism.