Expecting rules to tighten around shell companies after Panama Papers? Not likely
Tim Johnson reports that, for whatever reason, legislators are unlikely to take any action against shell companies and tax dodging. Presumably these legislators are acting in their own interest without regard for the public interest.
Who made the United States into a refuge for secretive shell companies?
Look toward Congress to find politicians who helped turn Nevada into a major home for shell companies, which can be used to evade taxes and hide illegal assets from around the world.
Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., now a member of the Senate Finance Committee, was a strong advocate while Nevada’s secretary of state for a 2001 state law that broadened legal protections for shell companies, allowing owners to remain secret.
The change made incorporating a company easier than getting a library card and helped spur the registration of thousands of shell companies in Nevada.
Rep. Dina Titus, who in 2001 was the Democratic leader in the Nevada state Senate and voted for the change, is now a member of Congress. So is Rep. Mark Amodei of Nevada, a key Republican proponent of the 2001 bill.
Heller and Titus now acknowledge that the Nevada legislation created unwelcome business practices; Titus even predicted in 2001 that it would attract “sleazeballs.” And indeed, foreigners have long employed Nevada shell companies, sometimes for corrupt purposes.
Will Capitol Hill tighten the laws around shell company practices? Don’t bet on it.
Neither state nor federal lawmakers seem eager to pursue proposed changes, shuttling back and forth the onus on who should act. Some Nevada politicians look to Washington to take action, while those on Capitol Hill often say it is up to the states to monitor and regulate corporations.
The revelations from the so-called Panama Papers, an archive of documents leaked from a Panamanian law firm that specializes in creating shell companies across the globe for its clients, laid bare how corrupt politicians and others seeking to hide their wealth used shell companies. . .
This is corruption and favoring corrupt interests. The sidebar to the article:
The Secret Shell Game: How the wealthy and famous hide money.
More on this story: Video: The secret shell game explained
The rest of the series: