A bipartisan group of two dozen state attorneys general has signed a letter urging an end to anonymous shell companies in the United States. Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge did not sign the letter.

Think Progress quotes from their letter:


The use of anonymous shell companies by those engaged in human trafficking, drug dealing, and other crimes, allows criminals to launder and spend money attained through criminal activity without accountability. Unfortunately, our investigations can stall when these companies are used to hide the identity of the individual or individuals who control or profit from the company.

The letter went to leaders of the House Financial Services Committee. The issue is topical, to put it mildly.

American shell companies have played outsized roles in the spread of kleptocratic tools and forces over the past few years, allowing companies to be formed on the cheap without identifying who the ultimate, or beneficial, owners were. Not only have such companies been used and abused by dictatorships and thuggish rulers in places like Equatorial Guinea and Ukraine, but they’ve also been utilized to allegedly move millions by those close to U.S. President Donald Trump, as the ongoing trial of Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, illustrates. (Trump, at last check, himself owns nearly 400 business entities in Delaware.)

An issue of interest to me, though not directly related is similar. That was the decision to make those behind LLCs in Arkansas anonymous. It would certainly be helpful to know more about the owners and beneficiaries of LLCs that, for example, do business with state and other governments.