Mapping companies in secrecy jurisdictions
One graph shows, strikingly, that the British Virgin Islands appears to have nearly as many companies registered as the United States, with Hong Kong not far behind - but both jurisdictions are dwarfed by the United Kingdom.
The number of companies will generally indicate two main things: first, how easy it is to incorporate, and second, how useful the jurisdiction is in terms of providing facilities for residents elsewhere to evade or avoid home rules, laws and regulations. Of course, these are just indicators: many companies do carry out genunine economic activity (obviously, the U.S. will have a far higher share of real companies doing real things than the British Virgin Islands. And, as the report indicates:
"Because of the secrecy that surrounds companies in most of the jurisdictions surveyed it is almost impossible to tell where these companies do actually trade, and where they should have tax liability or be subject to regulation. This is the danger that arises from the use of these entities. These so-called “shell companies”, “letter-box companies”, or “brass-plate companies” usually serve just one purpose, which is to conceal the identity of the real beneficiaries of a
transaction behind a corporate structure.
The companies are often complemented by other secrecy structures (e.g. trusts, which are often recorded s the owners of secrecy jurisdiction companies with the deliberate intention of creating layers of impregnability) and so make it difficult or even impossible for tax and other law enforcement authorities to connect a particular financial flow (e.g. a suspicious payment) with a real human being who might be held accountable for it as a result."
Again, you can find the full report here.