White tigers, private jets, multi-million dollar mansions in the most luxurious spots on earth — all paid for with money that critics say was stolen by the ruling families of oil-rich nations. CNBC follows the trail of international corruption and money laundering to a shocking tax haven...The United States.
There are estimates that corruption worldwide costs as much as $1.5 trillion a year. In many countries, the ruling families simply take what they want, living lives of luxury while their people face poverty and oppression. Award-winning Senior Correspondent Scott Cohn and the CNBC Investigations Inc. team follow the money around the globe to Dubai, London, Paris and the United States, which is fast becoming a place for the Filthy Rich to hide their wealth.
One way to hide illicit assets is through shell corporations. The United States is one of just a handful of countries that allow the formation of companies without disclosing the true owner. Filthy Rich introduces viewers to a Nevada man who claims "there is no better way to cloak your assets from public view" than to set up a corporation through him. He operates a business in his house — which is home to more than 2,000 Nevada corporations. Cohn questions Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller who takes pride in the fact that his state is now second per capita to Delaware in the number of corporations based there, as well as U.S. Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, who says states are becoming conduits for foreign corruption.
A common thread among the filthy rich is oil, and that forces U.S. officials to walk a fine line. CNBC shows how a succession of administrations and companies have been forced to choose between American interests and American values.