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Nevada & Wyoming Asked to Provide Information on Entities Linked to the “Panama Papers”

Nevada & Wyoming Asked to Provide Information on Entities Linked to the “Panama Papers”

Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) has asked the Nevada Secretary of State to provide specific information on over 1,000 Nevada business entities that have been linked to the so-called “Panama Papers” scandal. Nevada's law allows it to demand a list of beneficial owners of any entity registered in Nevada and suspected of illegal activities. Senator Wyden has also requested that the Wyoming Secretary of State provide specific information on the 24 Wyoming business entities that are linked to the scandal.

The term “Panama Papers” refers to the 11.5 million documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca that were first leaked to German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung and subsequently shared with more than 100 other international news outlets, including ICIJ. The information covers a period over almost 40 years, from 1977 until last December.

Senator Wyden's letters to Nevada and Wyoming. In letters dated May 10, Senator Wyden states that he has become increasingly concerned about the use of anonymous shell companies as vehicles for terrorist financing, tax evasion, and fraud targeting major government programs with the Senate Finance Committee's jurisdiction. To assist in his review of this matter, he has requested specific information from Nevada and Wyoming.

Information requested from the Nevada Secretary of State. In a letter dated May 10, Senator Wyden has requested that the following information be provided by the Nevada Secretary of State by June 3, 2016.

  • (1)  For the over 1,000 Nevada business entities that have been linked to Mossack Fonseca (including its Nevada affiliate), please provide all documents filed with the Secretary of State related to each entity, including, but not limited to, documents related to the articles of organization for each entity and any other documents related to the registration, maintenance, and operation of the entity.
  • (2)  Has the Secretary of State conducted audits of any business entity identified in item (1)? If so, please provide any official documents or correspondences related to any such audit.
  • (3)  How many times has Nevada used the authority under its law to demand a list of beneficial owners of any entity that is registered in Nevada and is suspected of illegal activities in each of the past three years? Has the Secretary of State used this authority to collect beneficial ownership information for any entity identified in item (1)? If so, please provide the beneficial ownership information for each such entity.
  • (4)  Under Nevada law, registration agents who represent 10 or more entities must register with Nevada as a commercial registered agent. How many commercial registered agents are there in Nevada? For each registration agent associated with a business entity in item (1), please provide copies of any documents filed with Nevada related to the operation of the registration agent as a commercial registered agent.
  • (5)  Please describe the process for reviewing and approving the operation of a commercial registration agent in Nevada. Has Nevada conducted any additional audits or oversight of commercial registration agents? If so, how many such audits have been conducted? How many commercial registration agents have found to be in violation of Nevada's licensing requirements? For each registration agent associated with a business entity in item (1), please provide copies of any document related to any audit of the commercial registration agent.
  • (6)  In 2011, the Secretary of State established a joint Corporate Ownership Fraud Task Force in cooperation with IRS to investigate registered Nevada busienss entities that were suspected of being involved in illegal activities, including tax evasion, money laundering, securities violations, and the marketing of shell or shelf companies for fraudulent and/or deceptive purposes. Did the task force identify or investigate any entities associated with Mossack Fonseca or MF Corporate Services? How many businesses were reviewed by the task force? What were the findings of this task force? Did any criminal or civil prosecutions result from the work of the task force? If so, please describe each such prosecution. Did any legislative or regulatory changes occur as a result of the task force's findings? Please provide any form report issued by the task force.

Information requested from the Wyoming Secretary of State. In a letter dated May 10, Senator Wyden has requested that the following information be provided by the Wyoming Secretary of State by June 3, 2016.

  • (1)  For the 24 Wyoming business entities that have been linked to Mossack Fonseca (including its registered agent M.F. Corporate Services), please provide all documents filed with the Secretary of State related to each entity, including, but not limited to, documents related to the articles of organization for each entity and any other documents related to the registration, maintenance, and operation of the entity.
  • (2)  Press reports and your office's press release indicated that in April, the Secretary of State conducted an initial audit of the 24 Wyoming companies linked to Mossack Fonseca. What were the findings of this audit? Please provide any official documents or correspondence related to this audit.
  • (3)  Does the Secretary of State, or any other agency, collect a list of the beneficial owners of entities registered in Wyoming? If so, please provide the beneficial ownership information for each entity identified in item (1).
  • (4)  Please describe the process for reviewing and approving the operation of a commercial registration agent in Wyoming. Does Wyoming conduct any additional audits or oversight of commercial registration agents? If so, how many such audits have been conducted in the past three years? How many registration agents have been found to be in violation of Wyoming licensing requirements?
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