A Reuters article featured on cnbc.com looks at the shell (and shelf) company industry in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
“At a single address in this sleepy city of 60,000 people, more than 2,000 companies are registered. The building, 2710 Thomes Avenue, isn’t a shimmering skyscraper filled with A-list corporations. It’s a 1,700-square-foot brick house with a manicured lawn, a few blocks from the State Capitol.”
“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!”
“Shell companies remain a headache for law-enforcement authorities. Officials say court-ordered subpoenas served on incorporators of shell and shelf corporations generally do deliver the names of the real owners hiding behind nominees. But if the owners are not U.S. citizens or companies, the investigation often hits a dead-end, they say.”
The whole article is well worth reading: also features Delaware, Nevada, corruption in Ukraine, and wire fraud.
Bonus Wyoming shell company link: a story in Slate which said that millions of Chinese internet users had been rerouted to a house in Wyoming is apparently only partially correct. The address in Wyoming is where a company which provides tools to evade the Chinese “Great Firewall” is registered, along with thousands of other shell companies.