Incorporation Transparency

McClatchy DC: New Panama Papers leak shows U.S. oddly inactive

A new leak of data from the embattled law firm Mossack Fonseca shows it scrambling to contain the crisis triggered by the April 2016 leak of the Panama Papers and attempting to field demands for information from authorities in numerous countries — with the glaring exception of the United States.

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Countering Transnational Kleptocracy: How Democracies can lead the way

In the past few years, journalists and civil society activists have begun documenting globalized corruption on an unprecedented scale, from the Panama and Paradise Papers leaks and collaborative initiatives like the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project to the countless individuals and organizations working at great personal risk in regions of marginal interest to mainstream international audiences. A special mention should be made of Forbidden Stories, a sadly necessary project which enables journalists to “swarm” the investigations of slain colleagues, ensuring that their killers’ attempt to silence them backfires spectacularly.

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Legislative Sausage-Making and Anonymous Shell Companies

Unfortunately, the United States is the easiest place in the world to set up an anonymous shell company. It can be done online in a few minutes and for minimal cost, with no requirement that those who actually own or control the company disclose their ownership. Shell companies can also be registered to someone who provides his or her identity for a fee, known as a nominee, who can be a lawyer, accountant, another person connected to the real owner, or even another company or trust. As a former Treasury special agent, I can attest that the establishment of multiple “layers” where the true beneficiary is not known makes it extremely difficult to follow the criminal money trail.

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ThinkProgress: Delaware ready to crack down on anonymous shell companies

At long last, the U.S. may be moving toward preventing the types of anonymous shell companies that criminals, kleptocrats, and arms dealers have long sought. But just as Delaware, the country’s leading anonymous shell company provider, gets on board with new transparency measures, Congress has taken a significant step back, gutting a bill that could have potentially ended the U.S.’s role as the world’s anonymous company capital.

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House AML Bill is a Missed Opportunity

By Gary Kalman

At first look, the banking community should be pleased with a bill scheduled for a vote this week in the House Financial Services Committee. Several provisions aim to reduce the compliance costs of financial institutions when trying to meet the requirements of anti-money-laundering rules.

Yet first looks can be deceiving.

A previous version of the bill, a discussion draft examined by the committee in November, included virtually all of the current provisions, such as incentives for innovation, increased information sharing and feedback from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network and streamlining of suspicious activity reporting. But one provision missing from the latest draft of the bill is a section to require Fincen to collect beneficial ownership information at the time of corporate formation and share that information with financial institutions and law enforcement. Considering Fincen’s new customer due diligence rule, which requires banks to identify beneficial owners of certain corporate bank accounts, this provision would have reduced compliance costs and potential liability should banks find themselves at odds with their regulators over AML compliance.

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Quartz: House Republicans are gutting a bill to fight money-laundering

House Republicans this week axed a key passage in a bill that is deemed crucial in the fight to stop kleptocrats, drug traffickers and terrorists from laundering money through the US.

The original legislation would have forced anyone setting up a company in the US to tell authorities who the actual owner was. Law enforcement, anti-corruption groups and national security experts say this is essential in fighting crimes that range from child trafficking to Russian election hacking; America’s opaque incorporation laws can otherwise make it impossible to find out who is behind a company benefiting from such crimes.

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Delaware Endorses Bill to Tackle Anonymous Companies

Move Comes as Lawmakers Consider Dropping Important Anti-Money Laundering Section from Legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Delaware’s top government official overseeing company formation in the state endorsed a bipartisan federal proposal to require companies to disclose their true owners at the time of formation in new a new letter to Congress.

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America must continue the fight against kleptocracy around the globe

Criminals and corrupt government officials and businesses use anonymous companies – usually registered in Western, developed countries – to move and hide assets, launder money, and evade law enforcement. The true owners of these companies should be required to report to authorities their identity when incorporating as a company or legal entity. This simple transparency would make it much harder for corrupt officials to steal vast wealth from their populations.

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