Anti-corruption groups are praising a new initiative by British Prime Minister David Cameron to unmask the owners of hundreds of anonymous shell companies, and they are calling on other countries—particularly the United States—to follow suit.
Corporate secrecy can be an important tool for legitimate business ventures trying to maintain a competitive advantage. But as CNBC reported in the 2012 investigative documentary "Filthy Rich," shell companies are often used for tax evasion and money laundering by corrupt politicians, drug and arms dealers, even terrorists. The U.S. and U.K. have been prime locations for the companies, but in prepared remarks for an Open Government summit in London on Thursday, Cameron said enough is enough.
"For too long a small minority have hidden their business dealings behind a complicated web of shell companies, and this cloak of secrecy has fueled all manners of questionable practice—and downright illegality," Cameron said.