This StAR report examines how bribes, embezzled state assets and other criminal proceeds are being hidden via legal structures – shell companies, foundations, trusts and others. The study also provides policy makers with practical recommendations on how to step up ongoing international efforts to uncover flows of criminal funds and prevent criminals from misusing shell companies and other legal entities.
Billions in corrupt assets, complex money trails, shell companies and other spurious legal structures. These form the complex web of subterfuge in corruption cases, behind which hides the Puppet Master and beneficiary of it all.
Linking the beneficial owner to the proceeds of corruption is difficult. With sizable wealth and resources, the corrupt stay ahead of the game by exploiting transnational constructions that are hard to penetrate.
Indeed, nearly all cases of grand corruption have one thing in common. They rely on corporate vehicles- legal structures such as companies, foundations and trusts - to conceal ownership and control of tainted assets.
The Puppet Masters takes corporate vehicles as its angle of investigation. Using cases, interviews with investigators, corporate registries, financial institutions and a ‘mystery shopping’ exercise that provides factual evidence of criminal practice, the book puts forward policy recommendations to guide national legislation and regulations, as well as international standard setters. It also provides information for practitioners engaged in investigating corrupt officials and academics involved in the study of financial crime.