Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 26 July 2014

Republic 'one of best places' for a money-laundering shell company

The Republic is one of the easiest places in the world to establish a shell company that could be used for anything from laundering money to sheltering terrorist funds, a report claims.

Ireland ranks just behind the Philippines and Ghana among the countries where it's easiest to establish a shell company that can't be linked to any individual and creates "near-insuperable" obstacles for regulators and law enforcement officers.

The report, from the Centre for Governance and Public Policy at Australia's Griffith University, ranks the US as the second-easiest place to set up such firms - behind Kenya.

That dubious top-tier ranking for the US comes as President Obama and other US politicians continue to lash out at American firms using so-called tax havens including the Republic to limit their domestic tax bills.

The researchers sent letters to company formation businesses in a number of countries and purported to be individuals from a range of other nations.

In some instances they pretended to be involved in "government procurement" in countries such as Guinea and Turkmenistan. It said such combinations should pose an instant red alert.

"A customer from a high-corruption risk country working in a high-corruption risk industry wanting to buy a shell company to enhance financial secrecy should have been an obvious signal of corrupt intent to providers," the report states.

The researchers said they hoped to provoke governments to "much greater efforts" in enforcing corporate transparency.

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