Our Own Private Cayman Islands
NPR had a story yesterday about a little house in Cheyenne, Wyoming that is the USA version of the Cayman Islands where companies go to hide their business. Over 2000 companies have incorporated at this address.
"Lo and behold, the corporate suites for the companies that are registered at that address are in fact cubbyhole mailboxes, floor to ceiling in the main room," Grow tells Guy Raz, host of weekends on All Things Considered.
The house is the headquarters of Wyoming Corporate Services, a business that creates "shell companies" — businesses that exist almost exclusively on paper. Grow says the company helps clients set up bank accounts and even appoint directors and CEOs. But the only physical evidence of these firms is mailboxes.
Reuter's investigation on this Wyoming industry reports:
Wyoming Corporate Services will help clients create a company, and more: set up a bank account for it; add a lawyer as a corporate director to invoke attorney-client privilege; even appoint stand-in directors and officers as high as CEO. Among its offerings is a variety of shell known as a "shelf" company, which comes with years of regulatory filings behind it, lending a greater feeling of solidity.
"A corporation is a legal person created by state statute that can be used as a fall guy, a servant, a good friend or a decoy," the company's website boasts. "A person you control... yet cannot be held accountable for its actions. Imagine the possibilities!"
And not surprisingly, these shell companies can be good money-laundering facilities. Seems like the USA has several states (Wyoming, Delaware and Nevada) that have the monetary ethics of the Caymans specializing is tax havens and enabling corruption. Wonder if any of those so-called businesses are involved in funding terrorists as well as money laundering and tax evasion?
Do read the full Reuter's piece to find out why Wyoming's regulatory system for incorporation is rated lower than that of Somalia and how some have used the services of the little house on the prairie to build their criminal enterprises. It provides a remarkable window into how the grifters use the corporation as a person to pervert our democracy.