Global Financial Integrity

 

Anonymous Companies

Ukrainian real estate play in Cleveland highlights need to know the beneficial owner

Editor’s note: this piece was originally published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on August 28, 2019. Earlier this year, an important legal complaint filed in the state of Delaware alleged that two Ukrainian oligarchs laundered hundreds of millions of...

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Anonymous companies – A way forward

The relationship between anonymous companies, corruption, money laundering, drug and weapons trafficking, organized crime and terrorist financing isn’t new. Studies from the Organization for Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD) from nearly two decades ago identified that nearly...

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Anonymous Companies and Transnational Crime

Transnational crimes generate US$1.6 trillion to US$2.2 trillion annually In 2017, Global Financial Integrity (GFI) did a study on transnational crime and found that the combined annual value of 11 different transnational criminal markets was between US$1.6...

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Panama Papers Anniversary Is Opportunity to Underscore Severity of the Problem

Believe it or not, the Panama Papers scandal has an upside: it shed light on the dark corners of the international financial system. Prior to the revelation that one law firm helped establish over 200,000 anonymous companies, the casual observer knew tax evasion, corruption, and money laundering occur in the world but they didn’t know quite how it works. Now the term “anonymous shell company” has some resonance and it is in the general lexicon — even if most people still can’t explain how they work.

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Getting a Global Legal Entity Identifier Number is as Easy as L-E-I

The global community recently began implementing a system of transparent, open source ID numbers—Legal Entity Identifiers (LEI)—to help companies, regulators, investors, and the public see how parent and subsidiary companies are related. Global Financial Integrity has been supportive of this corporate transparency tool, and I participated in the early stages of creating the new global LEI system. To test out and demystify the new system, I decided to have GFI register to get its own LEI number. Ten minutes and US$219 later we were done, and now I’m going to explain just how easy the process was.

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Panama Papers Prove Law Enforcement Right on Beneficial Ownership

“ICE has long recognized the misuse of corporations and limited liability companies (LLCs) formed under State law as a serious threat to the ongoing effort to combat international criminal activities. The lack of corporate transparency has allowed...

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UNCAC Coalition Calls for States Parties to Move on Beneficial Ownership Transparency at 6th COSP

When the States Parties to the UN Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) and official observers gather in St Petersburg next week for the 6th Conference of States Parties (COSP), the UNCAC Coalition will be advocating for enhanced language...

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Norway Latest Country to Adopt Public Registry of Beneficial Ownership

The Norwegian Parliament Building

Other Countries Should Follow Norway’s Example

On June 5, the Norwegian Parliament unanimously voted to establish a public registry of corporate ownership information, becoming the latest country to tackle the abuse of anonymous companies through increased transparency.

Anonymous companies are one of the top tools used by criminals, kleptocrats, tax evaders, and terrorists to launder dirty money with impunity.  Requiring companies to publicly disclose in a central registry their ultimate, human, beneficial owner(s) is regarded as the gold standard in tackling the abuse of these phantom firms.

Norway’s strong endorsement of transparency comes as no big surprise: the Scandinavian country routinely ranks near the top of transparency and anti-corruption rankings, and Norway was the first country to get behind the push to curb illicit financial flows.  Their support on this topic dates back to the formation of the Norwegian Government-led Task Force on the Development Impact of Illicit Financial Flows in 2007 and their financial backing of the Financial Transparency Coalition at its inception in early 2009–long before illicit flows topped the global agenda.

In establishing a public registry, Norway joins Denmark and the United Kingdom—the first country to commit to a public registry of beneficial ownership information back in October 2013.  The UK followed through with its commitment this March by passing historic legislation needed to fulfill its pledge.

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