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AZ Delegation in DC to Push for End to Shell Companies

Delegations from Arizona and across the country are in Washington, D.C., this week to push for federal regulations to end anonymous shell companies. (Warchi/iStock)
Delegations from Arizona and across the country are in Washington, D.C., this week to push for federal regulations to end anonymous shell companies. (Warchi/iStock)
April 11, 2016

PHOENIX - An Arizona delegation is joining others in Washington D.C. this week to urge Congress to tighten laws that allow anonymous shell companies in the United States.

The groups from across the country want Congress to establish federal regulations to make corporate ownership more transparent, since current laws vary widely from state to state.

Ana Owens, a tax and budget advocate with the Arizona Public Interest Research Group, says shell companies generally only serve criminals or others trying to hide what they are doing.

"We're trying to take the anonymous part out of it," says Owens. "And we're trying to make sure that when someone goes to create a corporation or a company, they're required to disclose who actually owns or controls that company."

The Rev. Liana Rowe with Shadow Rock United Church of Christ in Phoenix and Thala Rolnick, a Phoenix CPA, are leading a delegation from Arizona as part of the Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency, or FACT, Coalition.

Owens says the group is pushing lawmakers to adopt the Incorporation Transparency and Law Enforcement Assistance Act, designed to make every company disclose its true owners.

She says they also are backing a bill designed to close the loopholes that allow corporations and wealthy Americans to hide income using offshore tax havens.

"A lot of states don't want to be the first to collect this type of information, out of the fear that people will just go somewhere else to incorporate, like the state next door just because it's slightly easier," Owens says. "We believe the best solution is the federal solution."

The issue of anonymous corporate ownership is in the news after revelations from the leak of documents known as the Panama Papers, which identify many world leaders and known criminals who are clients of a law firm that specialized in setting up shell companies used to illegally hide assets.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AZ