Global Shell Games: Testing Money Launderers’ and Terrorist Financiers’ Access to Shell Companies

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on September 26, 2012

Global Shell Games: Testing Money Launderers’ and Terrorist Financiers’ Access to Shell Companies, by Michael Findley, Daniel Nielson and Jason Sharman, Centre for Governance and Public Policy

  • “For criminals moving large sums of dirty money internationally, there is no better device than an untraceable shell company. This paper reports the results of an experiment soliciting offers for these prohibited anonymous shell corporations. Our research team impersonated a variety of low- and high-risk customers, including would-be money launderers, corrupt officials, and terrorist financiers when requesting the anonymous companies. Evidence is drawn from more than 7,400 email solicitations to more than 3,700 Corporate Service Providers that make and sell shell companies in 182 countries. The experiment allows us to test whether international rules are actually effective when they mandate that those selling shell companies must collect identity documents from their customers. Shell companies that cannot be traced back to their real owners are one of the most common means for laundering money, giving and receiving bribes, busting sanctions, evading taxes, and financing terrorism.”
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