Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Incorporation transparency in the USA: testimonies and webcast

Last week we blogged the forthcoming testimony by TJN Senior Adviser Jack Blum to the US Senate Homeland Security Committee in support of new pro-transparency legislation, the Incorporation Transparency and Law Enforcement Assistance Act. Blum said:

"The single most important tool in the toolkit of people trying to hide money from law enforcement and tax collection is the anonymous shell corporation. These shell corporations have no physical place of business, use nominee officers and directors, and as a rule do no business in the place of incorporation."

Now, a little late (apologies), we bring you further testimony. Senator Levin noted that:

Viktor Bout, a Russian, is one of the most notorious arms traffickers in the world, and is featured in a book called Merchant of Death. Last year, the United States indicted him for conspiracy to kill United States nationals, the acquisition and use anti-aircraft missiles, and providing material support to terrorists. To carry out his activities, he is known to use a network of shell companies around the world, including companies formed in countries like Liberia, Moldova, and the United States.

Chart One lists the names of ten Texas and Florida companies alleged to have been used by Viktor Bout over the years. It also includes two Delaware companies that were alleged in a 2002 Interpol notice, based on information from Belgium, to have been used by Viktor Bout to transfer $325 million to carry out his activities.

The end result is that a U.S. company may be associated with an alleged arms trafficker and supporter of terrorism, but we are stymied in finding out, in part because our States allow corporations with hidden owners.

You will find the rest of Levin's testimony, and all the other statements, here. A live webcast of the proceedings is available here.


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