Incorporation Transparency

New Panama Papers Release Shows Vast Network of Secret Companies

U.S. Called Out as Among Easiest Countries to Open Anonymous Shell Companies Renewing Calls for Congressional Action

WASHINGTON, DC — The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) published more than 200,000 documents from a trove of leaked files known as the Panama Papers this afternoon, renewing calls from anti-money laundering and tax policy experts in favor of bipartisan transparency measures to curb terror finance, corruption, and tax evasion.  The bill is called the Incorporation Transparency and Law Enforcement Assistance Act (H.R.4450 |S. 2489).


Anti-Money Laundering Experts Deeply Concerned by Administration’s Flawed ‘Panama Papers’ Response

Loopholes in New Treasury Rule Perpetuate Problem of Anonymous U.S. Shell Companies—Enabling Terror Finance, Crime, and Corruption

WASHINGTON, DC – Leading anti-corruption, anti-money laundering, and tax policy experts expressed deep concerns about a set of rules and proposals announced by the Obama Administration last night in the wake of the so-called “Panama Papers” revelations.


Ernst and Young Study Finds that 91% of Senior Business Executives Believe that Beneficial Ownership Information is Important

Never before have governments and multinational institutions cooperated so extensively in combating bribery and corruption. The transnational nature of the issue led the G20 major economies to recognize bribery and corruption as an important impediment to economic growth and the group’s focus on corruption has continued under its Chinese presidency in 2016. The G20 outlined its priorities in the “2015-2016 G20 Anti-Corruption Action Plan” identifying key areas where economies and multinational organizations must strengthen their cooperation.


Spokespeople Available: Leaked #PanamaPapers Expose Deadly World of Anonymous Shell Companies

U.S. the 2nd Easiest Place in the World to Open Anonymous Shell Companies to Launder Money

70+ Faith Leaders, Small Business Owners, Citizen-Lobbyists Headed to Washington Next Week to Call on Lawmakers to End Abuse of Anonymous Companies

WASHINGTON, DC — A trove of more than 11 million documents from a Panamanian law firm leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists shows the deadly, devastating toll that anonymous companies take on the world, highlighting the need for U.S. action, according to the Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency (FACT) Coalition.


FACT Welcomes Bipartisan Bill to Curb Terror Financing, Money Laundering Through Anonymous Shell Companies

Incorporation Transparency and Law Enforcement Assistance Act” Will Increase Corporate Transparency; Give Law Enforcement Important Tool for Investigating Terrorism, Other Crimes

Rampant Abuse of Anonymous Companies Featured Prominently on Sunday’s 60 Minutes

WASHINGTON, DC – The Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency (FACT) Coalition welcomed the introduction today of bipartisan legislation to give law enforcement an important tool for investigating terrorism and other crime enabled through anonymous American shell companies.


New York Times Letter: Real Estate Transparency

By Clark Gascoigne

In a New York Times letter, FACT’s Clark Gascoigne writes that Treasury’s plan falls short of what’s needed to combat the financial system’s role as a money-laundering haven.

To the Editor:

Re “Property Sales Get U.S. Scrutiny” (front page, Jan. 14):

The Treasury Department’s plan to scrutinize the secret companies buying real estate in New York and Miami is a welcome first step toward cleaning up parts of the real estate market, but it falls far short of what’s truly needed to combat the United States financial system’s role as a major money-laundering haven.


Want to Know Who Owns the Largest Newspaper in Nevada? Good Luck.

By Ben Grossman-Cohen

But an Iowa Republican Has a Bill to Do Something about It…

Reporters at the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Nevada’s largest media outlet, are up in arms after an anonymous company—News + Media Capital Group LLC—spent $140 million to purchase the paper while refusing to disclose who owns the company. These dumbfounded journalists have run into the obscure yet increasingly prominent issue of “anonymous incorporation”, which has plagued anti-corruption warriors in developing countries for years.

At the heart of the issue are extreme secrecy rules on the books in states like Nevada, Delaware and Wyoming, which allow individuals forming companies to shield their true identities. Presidential candidate Jeb Bush has entered the fray, joking on Twitter about the paper’s anonymous owners:

Anonymous incorporation allows fraudsters, mobsters, terrorists, money-launderers, tax-evaders and corrupt politicians to cover their tracks and evade the authorities while they rip off the public and engage in all manner of crime and illicit activity. According to the US Departments of Justice and Treasury, anonymous companies have been used to fund al Qaeda and evade sanctions in Iran.


What Makes Delaware an Onshore Tax Haven

By Richard Phillips

When you think of a tax haven, you probably imagine the far off tropical islands of Bermuda or Grand Cayman, but the reality is that there is a major tax haven even closer to home in the state of Delaware. A new report from Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) explains how one our nation’s smallest states is one of the world’s biggest havens for tax avoidance and evasion.

What makes Delaware a tax haven? First, Delaware is one of the easiest places in the world to set up an anonymous shell corporation. In fact, setting up a company in Delaware requires less information than signing up for some library cards. This means that it is difficult for law enforcement to trace the activities of the anonymous shell corporations to the people who actually own and control them. This is what makes Delaware corporations an ideal vehicle not only tax evasion, but also for illicit activities like drug trafficking, terrorism finance and defrauding the government.

In addition, the state does not require companies to pay any tax on income relating to intangible assets held by companies based in the state. Companies take advantage of accounting gimmicks to shift their intangible income from other states into Delaware in order to take advantage of the zero tax rate on income earned from intangible assets. For example, Toy R Us has avoided millions in taxes by transferring its trademarks and trade names (including “Geoffrey the Giraffe”) into Delaware and charging its subsidiaries in other states for use of its trademarks.