The war on money-launderers’ vehicle of choice intensifies

FINANCIAL CRIMES come in all shapes and sizes, from politicians siphoning off state wealth and officials taking bungs to terrorists buying arms and gangs laundering drug profits. A common element is the use of shell companies, partnerships or foundations to hide the identities of those moving dirty money. Such brass-plate entities, whose ownership is typically hard if not impossible to trace, were at the heart of the theft from 1MDB, a Malaysian state fund, and a $230bn money-rinsing scandal at Danske Bank. They have been dubbed the “getaway cars” of financial crime.

NGOs such as Global Witness and Transparency International have long highlighted shells’ pernicious role, picking up support from government investigators sick of trails going cold. Their biggest success was to persuade Britain, in 2016, to become the first G20 country to set up a public register of company owners. The rest of the European Union is set to follow once a new money-laundering directive takes effect. That leaves plenty of gaps. But two of the biggest, Britain’s offshore territories and America, are also moving in the direction of ditching secrecy.

Earlier this month Britain’s three Crown Dependencies—Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man—issued a surprise joint statement pledging to table legislation to introduce public registers by 2023. They...



via The Economist: Finance and economics Business Feeds

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