Anonymous company owners and
the threat to American interests
September 2014
With the support of
With the support of
Mo Ibrahim, Founder and Chair
of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation:
“I’ve seen the harm that poor
governance and a lack of
accountability has caused
across the developing world,
which is why as a philanthropist
and a businessman I support
Charmian’s TED wish to fight
corruption and to end
anonymous companies.”
The United States is a country built on
freedom, fairness and enterprise. We believe
that if we work hard and pay our dues we can
expect a good life, in which we are financially
and physically secure.
Sometimes, it doesn’t work out that way,
because some individuals abuse the rights
of others.
Scammers and fraudsters cheat vulnerable
people like the young, the old or the sick
out of the things they desperately need to
get by in life. Dishonest public officials use
their positions for personal gain rather than
representing the needs of their citizens and
country. Terrorists and mobsters run criminal
enterprises that hurt ordinary citizens’ interests in ways that are very hard to predict, and
cost a huge amount to stop.
We all know what it feels like to get ripped
off. But we know less about the tricks many of
these criminals use to get away with it.
Global Witness analyzed a wide range of
crimes and predatory behavior across the
U.S. and found that they all had two things in
common: all were carried out by anonymous
owners of companies (see box), and authorities are spending huge amounts of time and
money trying to stop them.
U.S. laws enabled these criminals to hide behind the secrecy that anonymous companies
offer to pull off schemes that ripped us all off
– from the young to the old to the faithful.
This page: Charmian Gooch,
Global Witness’ co-founder, sets
out her wish to end anonymous
company ownership and accepts
the 2014 TED prize.
Photo: James Duncan Davidson
This report shows the range of crimes anonymous owners have been able to get away with:
–– An Ohio school district employee used a
web of fake companies to abuse his position
and bill for millions of dollars’ worth of
services that school kids never received
(page 11)
–– Texas lawyers used sham companies from
Delaware and Nevada to trick elderly people
into investing their life savings in worthless
enterprises (page 11)
–– Con artists, nicknamed the “Three Hebrew
Boys” tricked churchgoers and military
personnel into investing millions in a South
Carolina company that turned out to be a
Ponzi scheme (page 11)
–– The Iranian government used an anonymous company from New York to conceal its ownership of a skyscraper on 5th
Avenue, in direct breach of anti-terrorism
sanctions (page 7)
–– Convicted fraudsters set up ghost companies in South Dakota to swindle aspiring
American entrepreneurs out of their capital
by offering high return investments in
imaginary biofuel projects (page 13)
Below: It is easier to set up anonymous companies in the U.S. than it is in traditional tax
havens such as the Cayman Islands. Photo: Flickr/Creative Commons/Todd Wickerst
Without the secrecy provided by anonymous
American companies, it would have been
much harder for them to get away with it.
In most of the cases in this report, the authorities caught up with them eventually – but
not without expensive, time-consuming
investigations and court proceedings to
peel away the layers of secrecy and uncover
what was going on. It doesn’t need to be this
way. If company ownership were out in the
open, we could cut some of this crime off at
the source.
This is not an attack on companies. What we
are proposing will help responsible business.
Companies exist for a good reason – to limit
liability if a business idea does not work out,
and make sure would-be entrepreneurs do not
go bankrupt. This is a very sound principle
which allows business to flourish. But it is
being abused, by people who have no interest
in legitimate business. They just need a
smokescreen behind which they are free to rip
off innocent civilians and society as a whole.
We want to end this, and we can. By creating
a public registry of the real, human owners
and controllers of companies, our governments can bring business into the open and
help end the great rip off.
Momentum is gathering internationally. The
UK has already taken big steps by committing
to a public registry of company owners, and
there is change afoot in the European Union.
But the U.S. is lagging behind. The worst
offenders routinely make use of anonymous
ownership in the U.S., because many of its
states rank among the easiest places in the
world to set up a company whose owners
cannot be traced. As this report shows, this
creates chronic problems within the United
States and abroad.
That’s why we need to push the U.S. government to do something about it.
All American companies must be required to
disclose information about the real, living and
breathing human beings that own and control
them to the government, and this information
must be publicly available.
Anonymous company owners can use their compan(ies) as a legal smokescreen for criminal and predatory
activities. An anonymous company can do business like any other company, the only difference is it is
incredibly difficult to find out who the actual human being(s) controlling it is.
Instead, it can be owned by a “nominee” – someone who essentially rents out their name so that the
real owner’s identity can be kept hidden - or just by another company that could also have anonymous
owners. This makes it incredibly hard for law enforcement and the general public to know who really
owns the company, and what it is being used for.
Gangsters and crooks regularly set up a series of companies that own each other. Stacked up like Russian
dolls, and often crossing borders, they make it harder to figure out who is ultimately behind the company.
These companies often serve no legitimate purpose, but to cover things up.
Jon Adler, National President of the US Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA), said:
“As supported in bi-partisan legislation currently in Congress, we must
eliminate the corporate fox-holes that criminals cower in, and ensure
business accountability and transparency. Requiring corporate filers
to disclose who the beneficiaries are isn’t an invasion of privacy; it’s
a proclamation of integrity.”
Did you know - anonymous owners’
favorite hiding place is America?
A ‘beneficial owner’ is a natural person –
that is, a real, live human being, not another
company or trust – who directly or indirectly
exercises substantial control over a company
or receives substantial economic benefits
from the company.
“While we recognize that the vast majority
of companies formed in the U.S. are formed
for legitimate purposes, some are not. Each
year, billions of dollars move through the
global financial system under the anonymous
cloak that shell companies provide and into
the hands of some of our most dangerous
adversaries. These include narco-traffickers,
weapons proliferators, sanctions evaders, child
pornographers, cyber-criminals, terrorists,
and money launderers. In addition to the threat
posed to our national security by these illicit
companies, they also distort competition
and cost our economy precious tax revenue.”
David S. Cohen, Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial
Intelligence at the U.S. Department of the Treasury.
August 1, 2014
There is a common misunderstanding that
anonymous company owners always look to
sunny or mountainous tax havens like the
Cayman Islands or Switzerland for the secrecy they need to cover their tracks. But the
services they require are as readily available
in major financial centers like the U.S. – and
often more so. They are provided by lawyers,
company service providers and other middlemen who are meant to be the pillars of our
society, and to safeguard the protections and
privileges we value, not enable the crimes that
threaten them.
The World Bank found that the U.S. was the
favorite destination for corrupt politicians
from around the world to set up companies
to move or hide dirty money, and that this is
“especially concerning given the huge number of legal entities formed each year [in the
U.S.] – around ten times more than in all 41
tax haven jurisdictions combined.”1
It is very easy to set up an anonymous company in America, regardless of what you want
to use it for. A recent study found that out of
60 countries sampled worldwide, only Kenya
makes it easier than the U.S. to set up a company without disclosing who the owners are.
The study showed how little time it took to
find a U.S. corporate service provider willing
to set up a company with anonymous owners
for inquiries that sounded like a front for
terrorism or for those that should have raised
a corruption risk.2
The evidence strongly suggests that, in most
cases, company service providers are not
interested in who you are or what you might
be doing, and current U.S. laws do not require
them to be. This is out of kilter with other
legal requirements in the U.S. - you have to
provide less information to set up a company
than to get a driver’s license or register to
vote, for example.
In the U.S., companies are created at the
state level, so information on ownership
varies from state to state. But no state requires
the collection of information about the ultimate, or ‘beneficial,’ owners of companies.
While some states collect shareholder information, these shareholders can be other companies with anonymous owners or nominees,
essentially front people for the real owners of
the company. So it is perfectly legal to set up
American companies with anonymous owners. As The Great Rip Off shows, this lets con
artists and criminals get away with all sorts of
wrongdoing at home and abroad.
Of course, states did not set out to permit
the creation of companies with anonymous
owners. Instead, criminals have figured out
how to take advantage of gaps in the law. But
when loopholes like this are exploited, they
need to be closed – especially when they are
enabling a wide range of crimes that the government is desperate to stop. Yet states have
been aware of this problem for many years
and have taken very little meaningful action
to address it. It is time for that to change.
This report reveals the scope and seriousness of the problem, and makes recommendations for what must be done to fix it. Given
that the secret nature of anonymous company
owners makes uncovering them extremely
difficult, the cases presented here represent
an indicative – not exhaustive – list of the
ways in which company secrecy leads to
abuse. These cases are very likely just the tip
of the iceberg. The breadth and range of the
cases and their locations point to the urgent
need for swift, effective action to stop abusive
behavior by anonymous company owners.
It is time to stop the anonymous owners
behind the great rip off. It is time to change
the law.
The U.S. government spends almost a trillion taxpayer
dollars every year3 protecting American citizens
and interests against threats of various kinds,
many of which originate overseas. These initiatives
are top-level priorities for the U.S. government,
but they are also very expensive, especially given
that the nation’s resources are stretched thin
due to the economic crisis and slow recovery.
Such efforts to protect U.S. citizens are critically
undermined when the money to pay for them goes
missing. So it’s particularly crazy that our legal system
offers a way for would-be con artists to submit
fraudulent procurement bids and squirrel away the
money they’ve stolen behind shell companies they
set up in the U.S.
But that’s what is happening. Our analysis shows
that anonymous company owners are able to rip off
American taxpayers and divert funds away from their
intended uses for personal gain. Often, these people
are abusing their responsibility for the allocation of
government money, to procure fake services or goods.
Whether it is selling knock-off parts to the Pentagon
(see right), stealing millions from the U.S. Navy4
or using inside knowledge to craft proposals to
train and equip troops (see right), anonymous
company owners are endangering U.S. citizens
and hampering our military efforts overseas.
It’s not just procurement, either. In other cases,
known terror threats or criminals have been able to
breach or evade sanctions by hiding behind anonymous companies. These criminals don’t tend to get
away with it forever – in many cases, the authorities
eventually catch up with them. But not before great
damage has been done, money stolen and huge
amounts of time and resources wasted peeling away
the layers of corporate secrecy and investigating
the wrongdoing. And who knows what threats
remain undetected, hidden behind the veil of
corporate anonymity?
We believe these examples are just the tip of the
iceberg. By closing the loopholes which give criminals
somewhere to hide, we can cut off many of these
crimes at the source. To protect U.S. citizens, we must
make company ownership a matter of public record.
This page: Drug traffickers, such as the
Los Zetas cartel in Mexico,a have used
anonymous companies to launder money
and set up fronts – including by buying
racing horses in the U.S. Photo: AP
Photo/The El Paso Times, Mike Curran
Right: U.S. taxpayer funded efforts
to train Afghan troops have been
undermined by fraud and corruption
facilitated by anonymous companies.
Photo: AP Photo / Ahmad Jamshid
Selling fake military parts
to the Pentagon (WY)
Stealing from American taxpayers
and Afghan commando troops (MA)
Zetas drug
trafficking (OK)
The U.S. Department of Defense must know
who it is doing business with, and that the
military parts it buys are sound. Yet in recent
years, the Pentagon has repeatedly suffered
from counterfeit parts infiltrating its supply
chain, putting American troops and interests
at risk.5
One such scam was carried out by Atilla C.
Kan, a procurement and operations manager
for New York Machinery, a Pentagon supplier.
Under the alias John Ryan, Kan formed two
shell companies in Wyoming, and pretended
they were largely owned by ethnic minorities
in order to win preferential treatment for
government contracts. They were just two of
more than 2,000 companies registered to a
small house in Wyoming. Nine of these companies were awarded contracts worth more
than $1.6 million, mostly by the Department
of Defense.
Both Kan’s companies supplied parts for
military tractor-trailers described by the
Pentagon as “essential to operating personnel”. Instead of supplying bona-fide parts,
Kan reverse-engineered fakes in Turkey that
looked just like those made by the approved
The shell companies were later banned from
selling parts to the Pentagon for three years,
but it is not clear whether the Pentagon now
vets its suppliers to see if their real owner can
be identified. The risk to U.S. citizens and
troops is clear.
Kan pleaded guilty in 2007 to fraud for his
role in the scheme to sell substandard parts
to the Department of Defense.6 In 2010, New
York Machinery also pleaded guilty to fraud.7
The U.S. has spent billions to help Afghanistan turn the page on a past blighted by corruption and conflict. A key part of this effort
focuses on equipping and training Afghan
commando troops to serve their own people
without outside support.
Such efforts are greatly undermined by
fraudulent bids by people with inside knowledge, like those carried out by Lieutenant
Colonel David Young, Michael Taylor and
Christopher Harris.8 Hiding behind anonymous companies, Young illegally passed on
information about projects to Taylor, president of the American International Security
Corporation (AISC), and Harris, a contractor
in Afghanistan.
This information enabled AISC to design
the perfect bid for the project. Between 2007
and 2011, it was awarded approximately $54
million worth of Army contracts, inflating the prices once it had eliminated the
Young, Taylor and Harris stole more than
$20 million,10 covertly transferring funds
through U.S. shell companies with nominee
directors.11 They spent the money on houses,
an airplane, expensive cars and South African
Gold Krugerrand coins.12
All three have pled guilty.13
In the past decade, the international drug
trade through Mexico has ripped apart the
fabric of its society, causing many thousands
of deaths and flooding American streets with
drugs and dirty money. The governments of
both countries have carried out crackdowns
on both sides of the border, but the trade is
flourishing today and the blood continues to
flow. Meanwhile, the drug kingpins look for
new ways to move and hide their cash.
The biggest of Mexico’s drug gangs is the Los
Zetas cartel, whose former leader Miguel
Ángel Treviño was notorious for dismembering his victims while still alive.
From 2008, the Zetas used anonymous
companies, including from Oklahoma, in a
scheme to launder millions of dollars of drug
money into the United States, with the true
ownership hidden behind frontmen.14 The
money was hidden behind the purchase of
race horses, some of whom were given names
such as ‘Number One Cartel’ and ‘Morning
Cartel’. The horses were incredibly successful
and reported to win the cartel several million
Fourteen people, including Treviño, were
indicted on money laundering charges by the
U.S. in 2012.15 Treviño was captured in Mexico
in July 2013.16 As of September 2013, four
co-defendants from the original indictment
have yet to be caught. Nine people have been
sentenced for their role in the scheme.17
NY skyscraper owned by
government of Iran (NY)
The U.S. government has gone to great
lengths to counteract the perceived threat
from the Islamic Revolutionary Government
of Iran, including making it illegal to provide
services to Iran and for entities linked to the
state to do business in America.
However, anonymous owners enabled Iran
to own a “slice of Manhattan”18 and profit
from its expensive real estate market. A 36story Manhattan skyscraper on 5th Avenue,
which housed the Juicy Couture flagship
store, was for many years part-owned by a
front for the Iranian government, in direct
breach of sanctions. The building was ‘secretly owned and controlled’19 by the Iranian
government using companies incorporated
in New York and the UK Crown Dependency
of Jersey. In 2013, the U.S. was set to seize
control of the building in what the Depart­
ment of Justice called the largest ever
terrorism-related forfeiture. After a lengthy
investigation and court case, the judge found
that the property’s owners provided services
to Iran, which has been against U.S. law since
1995, and that the building was involved in
money laundering.20
The case is due to be appealed.21
Taxes are critical to how our society works – we pay
our dues and we expect certain protections and
provisions in return.
When fraudsters and scammers steal the money
and deprive citizens of those protections and
provisions, they are not just ripping off a faceless
institution – they are ripping us all off. Often, they
target the most needy in society – the young or the
sick. In this way, they are cheating people out of what
is rightfully theirs underthe social contract with
the state.
Our analysis reveals how many of the worst of these
scams were carried out by the owners of anonymous
companies registered in the U.S.
This page: Varugan Amroyan was one
of 73 people involved in an Armenian
organized crime network that used U.S.
anonymous owned companies to defraud
Medicare of more than $35 million.
Photo: AP Photo / Louis Lanzano
Right: An investigator stands in front
of a UPS Store where criminals rented
mailboxes as ‘addresses’ for phantom
clinics used to steal $70 million from
insurance companies and Medicare.
Photo: REUTERS / Tami Chappell
Armenian organized crime network creates fake
healthcare clinics to steal millions from Medicare
(AL, CA, CO, KY, MD, NV, NM, TX)
Armen Kazarian was the kingpin of an American-Armenian crime syndicate behind the
largest ever U.S. Medicare fraud. His scheme
stole the identities of doctors and patients to
try and rob the government initiative of more
than $100 million by submitting fraudulent
Kazarian was a “Vor,” or “thief-in-law,” a
select fraternity of senior criminals from the
former Soviet Union on which the U.S. authorities have pledged to crack down. He was also
an anonymous company owner. Kazarian’s
operation set up at least 118 fake health clinics
in around 25 states, using addresses that were
often empty storefronts or UPS or Mailboxes,
Creating fake AIDS and cancer clinics to steal
more than $70 million from companies and
taxpayers (FL, GA, LA, NC, SC)
Beginning as early as 2005, anonymous owners used an insurance scam to steal approximately $70 million from American businesses
and taxpayers. The money was meant to help
HIV and cancer sufferers through the government’s Medicare program.27
In one scheme, Michel de Jesus Huarte and
associates set up at least 29 “phantom clinics”
and submitted false claims for $55 million
worth of HIV and cancer treatments to private
insurance companies that participated in
Medicare Advantage. The sham clinics
were paid approximately $14.6 million from
American companies even though the clinics
did not exist and the treatments were never
To hide what was going on, the businesses
operated behind shell companies registered
in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North
Carolina and Louisiana. Huarte was able
to conceal his ownership of these companies by recruiting nominee owners to sign
bank and business documents, and serve as
In another fraud scheme, Huarte and other
conspirators used phantom clinics in Florida
to submit at least $61 million in fake claims
directly to Medicare for HIV infusion therapy.
Medicare paid the fraudsters at least $23.9
million before they were caught.30
Huarte pleaded guilty and was sentenced to
22 years in prison in 2010.31
Etc. stores. By opening the clinics in the
names of anonymous companies from states
including Alabama, California, Colorado,
Kentucky, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico
and Texas, the gang was able to disguise who
was really behind them and where the money
was actually going.22 The syndicate received
at least $35 million from the Medicare budget
before they were caught.23
Kazarian pleaded guilty in 2011 to racketeering24 and was sentenced to 37 months in
prison in 2013.25 Following the sentence, the
Manhattan U.S. Attorney said, “International
mobsters who think they can export their
criminal enterprises to the United States and
target our government programs and our
citizens are in for a rude awakening—they
will face US justice and be made to answer for
their crimes.”26
It would have been much more difficult to
pull off the caper had the gang not been able
to set up a web of anonymous companies in
the U.S.
Con artists and tricksters are always likely to prey on
the most vulnerable or desperate in society. But that
doesn’t mean we need to give them the tools to do so.
That’s what is happening in the U.S. right now. Our
analysis shows anonymous owners of companies
registered here are able to trick people who thought
they were working towards or buying into the chance
of a better life, by hiding the reality of what they are
doing behind the legal smokescreen of a company.
The examples vary widely, from fleecing churchgoers
or the elderly of their life savings, to duping citizens
with bad credit into taking out non-existent credit
cards. There are health insurance scams, and one case
in which hundreds of desperate foreigners were
tricked into a life of modern slavery (see right). But
whatever the context, the criminals all use networks
of anonymous companies to hide very obviously
illegal or unethical activities. Often, the author­
ities are heavily invested in trying to stop these
activities – but the anonymous company structures make it much more difficult to do so.
A lot of time, money and distress could have
been saved if those behind the crimes had not
been able to own anonymous companies If we
change the law, it will make life much harder
for the con artists of the future.
This page: The “Three Hebrew Boys”,
pictured here in court, used anonymous
companies as part of an elaborate con
that tricked churchgoers and military
personnel into investing $82 million
in a Ponzi scheme. Photo: AP Photo /
The State, Lindsay Semple, Fil
Selling Americans fake health insurance plans
(DE, MS, NH, SC)
Tricking the elderly out of their
life savings (DE, NV)
Stealing millions from Ohio
school children (OH)
Imagine if you bit the bullet and bought a
healthcare plan, only to have a legitimate
claim rejected by a fake company when you
needed it?
That’s what happened to the 17,000 Americans who were the victims of an alleged $28
million health insurance scam made possible
by anonymous companies incorporated in
Delaware, Mississippi, New Hampshire and
South Carolina.
Bart S. Posey, Richard H. Bachman and
others are alleged to have sold the fake health
care plans and then turned down claims
submitted by their victims.32 Between 2008
and 2010 they are alleged to have used the
web of American companies to sell the plans
to individuals and employer groups in various
states, and to launder their gains and blow the
premiums. In total, they are accused of lining
their own pockets with $5.4 million33 that they
spent on property, a motorcycle and other
luxury goods.34
Posey, Bachman and others accused deny
the charges. The case is ongoing and the trial
is scheduled for January 2015.35
Roger Lee Shoss and Nicolette Loisel knew
the power a fake company could give them
over vulnerable people. The two lawyers from
Texas stole the identities of dormant, publicly-traded, companies from Delaware36 and
Nevada37 and set up sham companies with the
same names.
This trick allowed them to target elderly
victims with telemarketing schemes, and
persuade them to buy shares in the worthless enterprises by sending money to bank
accounts controlled by Robert Paul Gunter in
central Florida.
The scam fooled thousands of elderly
citizens from around the world into investing
more than $127 million.38 The co-conspirators
spent the victims’ money on properties
across the globe, an airplane, boats, vehicles
and more.39
In 2013, Gunter was sentenced to 25 years in
jail. Shoss was sentenced to 10 months in prison and Loisel was sentenced to 12 months.40
Education is fundamental to all Americans
getting a fair chance in life. One government
official denied Ohio school children their
dues by setting up a web of fake companies
which he then paid millions of dollars for
non-existent services.41
Joseph Palazzo was responsible for managing his school district’s IT Department.
Between 2007 and 2011, he and his associates
set up a number of shell companies that
enabled them to steal at least $3.4 million,42
by submitting fake invoices for IT products
and services they never delivered.
According to court documents, the companies were simply shells established to
“conceal the illegal nature of such funds and
to avoid detection by law enforcement.”43
Palazzo then authorized the District to pay
the invoices by issuing checks to the shell
companies. The nominee owners of the shells
kept approximately half of the money and
gave the other half to Palazzo for his personal
Palazzo pled guilty to conspiracy to commit
mail fraud, conspiracy to commit money
laun­dering, and wire fraud, and was senten­
ced to more than 11 years in prison in 2013.45
Conning the faithful and military personnel
to the tune of $82 million (SC, NV)
Anonymous debt collectors preying
on vulnerable homeowners (DE)
They called themselves the “Three Hebrew
Boys”. Touring the southeast United States,
Tony Pough, Timothy McQueen and Joseph
Brunson targeted religious events to preach
about how their faith and an incredible
investment opportunity had saved them from
crushing debt.46
The three criminals tricked churchgoers and
military personnel into investing more than
$82 million in a Ponzi scheme.47 Thousands
invested their life savings48 in fake “debt
elimination schemes” they were told would
wipeout home mortgage payments, student
and car loans and credit card debt after a
certain period of time.49
Victims were required to sign a non-disclosure agreement with a million dollar penalty,50
and then pay into the fraud through the Capital Consortium Group (CCG), an anonymous
company from South Carolina controlled by
the con men. The crooks characterized CCG
as a ministry to make it appear that it was
connected to a charitable debt elimination
program51 and claimed that its overseas investments earned 200-500% per night.
In reality very little of the money was invested.52 Some was used to pay early customers in
order to extend the life of the scam, but most
of it lined the pockets of the three anonymous
company owners, who purchased luxurious
goods including high-end automobiles, a
private jet and sky box seats at the Carolina
Panthers and Atlanta Falcons stadiums.53
The three are currently serving prison sentences between 27 and 30 years.54
Imagine being threatened with losing your
home, sometimes over a tax bill of a few hundred dollars, and not knowing who you are
really up against?
That’s what happened to the victims of Aeon
Financial, a company owned anonymously by
Mark Alan Schwartz.55 Targeting thousands of
ordinary people including a retired teacher,
a hospitalized grocery clerk and a severely
disabled woman,56 Aeon Financial bought up
vulnerable Americans’ property tax debts –
known as “liens” – in Iowa, Kentucky, Ohio,
Maryland and Washington, DC. The company
then allegedly piled on legal fees which often
increased the debt several times, and gave
homeowners a stark choice: pay up or lose
your home. This activity is perfectly legal.
The Washington Post uncovered the story in
2013 and tried to peel back the layers of anonymous companies to see if they could identify
the ultimate owner of Aeon Financial, which
was registered in Delaware. It reported that
officials in DC didn’t know who the real
owners of Aeon were, and that the trail ended
with Schwartz.57 Only after the story received
widespread attention, did Schwartz disclose
in a letter to the editor in the Washington Post
that he is a beneficial owner of the company.
Schwartz wrote that “real property tax-lien
investors such as Aeon Financial provide an
invaluable public service by paying taxes that
property owners have failed to pay”.58
“Modern Slavery” and Anonymous
Companies (KS, MO, OH)
America has always been a country which
welcomes immigrants who want to work for
a better life. That promise lay behind a $6
million human trafficking scheme in which
anonymous company owners tricked their
victims into a life likened to “modern-day
Hiding their real identities behind a web of
anonymous companies registered in Kansas,
Missouri and Ohio,60 the largely Moldovan
gang ran employment companies that supplied hundreds of foreign nationals to hotels,
resorts and casinos in fourteen states across
the U.S.61
According to the indictment, victims from
Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines and elsewhere were lured into the U.S.
with false promises and then forced to live in
over-priced, overcrowded and sub-standard
apartments. The gang withheld much of their
earnings, allowed their visas to expire and
threatened the workers with deportation and
extra fees if they left.62 They used the anonymous companies to obscure the links between
the illegal activity and the main corporation
they used in the scam, and to launder their
illegal money.63
The ringleader of the scam was sentenced to
twelve years in prison.64
The ability to speculate is hardwired into how
we do business – it’s what has allowed the U.S.
economy to grow into the largest in the world.
This is why companies exist in the first place – by
limiting liability, they create the conditions that
help entrepreneurs turn their ideas into reality
without risking everything if it goes wrong.
But good business means knowing who you
are dealing with – so you have confidence in
the value of what you are buying. The owners
of secret, anonymous companies can stop this
from happening. Instead, they allow con men and
mobsters to defraud legitimate business people
or investors by hiding fake promises or creating
the impression of value when there is none.
This is bad for individual citizens and for the government – it is also bad for the market. For markets
to work well, people need to be able to trust the other
market participants, and that confidence needs to be
backed up by a guarantee that those who transgress
will be punished. Yet as this section shows, some of
the world’s most wanted criminals have been able
to cheat the system by hiding behind anonymously
owned companies and creating the illusion of value.
Not knowing who the beneficial owners of companies are can also threaten financial stability. When
Lehman Brothers, the fourth largest investment
bank in America, declared bankruptcy in 2008, it
triggered widespread panic and a global financial
crisis whose repercussions are still being felt today.
Financial companies had no idea to what extent
they may have had contracts with subsidiaries of
Lehman, because information on the real, beneficial
owners of companies is not recorded in the U.S.66
Lehman wasn’t alone – all the other banks were
doing the same, because that’s the way companies
are set up in the U.S. and elsewhere. It meant nobody
really knew their liabilities, which added to the
sense of turmoil and uncertainty and almost froze
the entire financial system. If the subsidiaries had
disclosed their beneficial owners in a public registry,
it would have had a clear benefit for companies
and people affected by the 2008 meltdown.
Large multinationals also face threats from this
kind of anonymity. For example, if a multinational
company partners with a previously unheard
of, anonymously-owned company, it can be at
risk of violating anti-bribery legislation such as
the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act if it later
turns out that its partner company is controlled
by a public official involved in corruption. This
has happened many times in the oil industry. Secrecy breeds market instability and allows
unscrupulous individuals to rip off ordinary
citizens. Open business is good for business –
which is why we must change the law and bring
company ownership out of the shadows.
This page: Photo: Flickr / Creative
Commons / jpellgen
Stealing NASA and other government contracts
from disadvantaged small businesses (VA)
Russian crime boss cons investors
out of millions (PA)
In order to give small, disadvantaged businesses a chance, the U.S. government often
makes specific contracts available to them.
These laudable schemes are potentially open
to abuse by con artists – especially when they
are able to hide their real identities behind
anonymous companies.
Keith Hedman was one such anonymous
owner. Hedman set up an anonymous
company in Virginia and pretended that an
employee, Dawn Hamilton, had founded it so
that he could use her Portuguese heritage and
history of social disadvantage to win preferential treatment.
Having successfully deceived the Small
Business Administration, Hedman was able to
fraudulently secure federal government contracts worth $31 million from NASA and other
agencies through various means, including
by bribing a U.S. government official. Many of
these contracts were for private security work
for the government.
Hedman then illegally passed the majority
of the work to a larger company.67 The scam
generated almost $7 million in salary and payments for the conspirators that they should
not have received.68
Hedman pleaded guilty, was sentenced to
six years in jail and had to return $6 million to
the government.69
The FBI has described Semion Mogilevich as
“the most dangerous mobster in the world,”70
allegedly “involved in weapons trafficking,
contract murders, extortion, drug trafficking,
and prostitution on an international scale.”71
According to an indictment, that reputation
did not stop the Russian from setting up a vast
network of anonymous companies, stretching from Eastern Pennsylvania to the United
Kingdom,72 which allowed him to cheat the
stock market and steal over $150 million from
investors in the United States and overseas.73
Many of the investors lost their pensions and
retirement savings.74
Using his web of anonymous companies,
Mogilevich is said to have created the illusion
of a successful international business,75 supposedly trading in industrial magnets. This
was complete with glossy annual reports and
stock market listings.76
The reality was very different. By inflating
the price of his companies through manipulating securities and false reporting, including reportedly lying to the Securities and
Exchange Commission, Mogilevich convinced
investors to purchase millions in stocks in a
company that allegedly did no real business.
Those involved lost millions.
In spite of several arrest warrants issued
against him, Mogilevich still lives freely
in Moscow, according to the FBI. He has not
been convicted for these crimes.
The case shows how the secrecy that anonymous owners rely on breeds market instability and erodes investor confidence.
Mobsters hiding behind
family trusts (FL, NJ, PA)
Ripping off
investors (SD)
Nicodemo Scarfo and Salvatore Pelullo
were two Mafiosi who knew how to play
the criminal shell game. Using anonymous
companies opened in the name of trusts for
their children as shields, they were able to
cover up multi-million dollar crimes and
launder the proceeds.77
Previously, Scarfo and Pellulo had used
threats of economic and physical harm to take
control of FirstPlus Financial Group (FPFG),78
a publicly traded company from Texas,
and force board members to approve fake
contracts and to buy several sham companies
they controlled.
FPFG paid millions of dollars for companies
of little or no value, including for a company
that Scarfo and others created for the sole
purpose of being bought by FPFG.79 The two
mobsters ultimately stole at least $12 million
from the company and its shareholders,80
money they used to buy fast cars, jewelry and
a yacht they named “Priceless,” as well as a
cache of firearms and ammunition.81
The two men were convicted in July 2014
and are due to be sentenced in the Fall.82
Each of them had a dream. Whether it was
opening a winery in Arkansas or renovating
a golf course in Colorado, they were regular
people who needed investment to make that
dream a reality.83
Fresh out of prison for fraud, Wesley
Wayne Austin and his accomplices set up
ghost companies in South Dakota to swindle
these aspiring American entrepreneurs out
of their capital.84
Offering short-term investments in an
imaginary biofuel project, or large loans in
return for six-figure application fees, they
tricked investors into wiring money up front,
then used it to fund lavish lifestyles or pay
off earlier investors in their Ponzi scam.85
In total they promised over $1.4 billion in
loans and sought over $10.6 million in fees
and supposed investments, swindling their
victims out of at least $3.3 million.86
Austin was sentenced to 11 years in prison
in 2011.87
Legitimate businesses incorporate in the
U.S. for a variety of reasons. America offers a
strong, stable economy, access to one of the
world’s largest markets, and the credibility
associated with being registered in the U.S.
Secrecy is not the usual reason for legitimate corporations to operate in the U.S.
Changing the law to require all states to
collect beneficial ownership information and
make it publicly available would level the
playing field. No state would lose business to
any other state. A small amount of business
may be lost, but this is the business of drug
cartels, tax evaders, corrupt dictators and
terrorists – businesses we do not want on our
shores anyway. The vast majority of American
businesses have nothing to hide – and so
they have nothing to fear from this proposal.
U.S. Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and
Financial Intelligence, David Cohen makes clear:
“…those of us that ‘follow the
money’ find ourselves constantly
running up against legal brick
walls, often unable to pierce
the anonymity of these paper
firms until it’s too late.” 65
The developing world loses vast sums of money
to corruption every year – money that could drive
forward fledgling economies and pay for the
schools, hospitals and roads that are badly needed.
In 2010, the value of exports of oil and minerals
from Africa was worth $333 billion. But this vast
wealth is not translating into an improved lot for
most ordinary people in the continent, because
so much of it is stolen by corrupt politicians.
This kind of corruption is all too often seen as a
problem “over there”, that we can do little about
in countries like the U.S. This is not true – as the
examples in this section and many others show, the
corrupt need a safe place to hide the money they
have stolen from their citizens, and they often look
to an anonymous American company to provide it.
Further problems arise when poor governments
buy critical supplies like medicine and food from
overseas, and need to get the best possible price
from their suppliers. Our analysis reveals how
owners of anonymous American companies have
been able to rip off such governments, denying
often desperate citizens the essentials they need.
These anonymous owners are ripping off the
people of these countries in the most spectacular
fashion. Others are helping undermine security
in some of the world’s poorest countries. The arms
trader Viktor Bout, for example, was able to sell
arms to both sides of several conflicts using
anonymously-owned companies.
When the World Bank reviewed 213 cases of
grand corruption between 1980 and 2010, it
found that more than 70 per cent of them relied
on anon­ymous shell companies. Companies reg­
istered in the U.S. topped the list – by bringing
company ownership into the open, we can help
poor countries grow safely and sustainably.
This page: Teodorin Obiang, son of the
President of Equatorial Guinea, allegedly
used American anonymous companies
to secretly siphon off millions from
sales of his desperately poor country’s
resource wealth, spending more than
$300 million on luxury goods, including
a fleet of fast cars. Photo: AFP / Stringer
Right: Viktor Bout, known as the Merchant
of Death, used a global network of shell
companies, including twelve incorporated
in U.S. states, to become the world’s
largest arms trafficker before being
captured. Photo: AP Photo /
Apichart Weerawong
The President’s son and the stolen resource
wealth of Equatorial Guinea (CA)
The Merchant of Death and
anonymous companies (DE, FL, TX)
Overcharging the government of Ukraine
for vaccinations (OR)
Equatorial Guinea is massively rich in natural
resources but its people are some of the
poorest in the world. Where’s all the money
gone? It appears, in part, to have gone into the
pockets of the president’s son, via a string of
anonymous companies.
The U.S. Department of Justice says that Teodorin Obiang spent more than $300 million
in stolen money on luxury goods, sports cars
and houses.88 The assets included a $30 million mansion in Malibu, California and a $38
million private jet. Anonymous companies
incorporated in California were used to open
bank accounts in the U.S. and buy a California
mansion while keeping the real owner of the
money secret, while a company incorporated
in the British Virgin Islands was used to buy
the plane.89
The president’s son is facing court cases
in France and the U.S. He is currently in
settlement talks with the U.S. over two asset
forfeiture cases that seek to seize the mansion
and private jet. There’s an arrest warrant out
for him in France and some of his assets have
been seized. But if he was such an obvious
corruption risk, why was he allowed to set up
these American companies in the first place?
Viktor Bout – on whom the Hollywood film
Lord of War is based – is said to have been
the world’s largest arms trafficker.90 His
deals fuelled conflicts throughout Africa and
elsewhere, even providing weapons to both
sides of the same conflict on some occasions.
He used a global network of shell companies,
including at least twelve incorporated in the
U.S. states of Delaware, Florida and Texas.91
Bout is now in jail in Illinois having been
convicted on terrorism charges, including
conspiracy to kill Americans and provide
arms to a terrorist organization.92
One of Ukraine’s biggest medical suppliers,
Interfarm, ripped off the government by
supplying vaccines at double the cost price,
according to a court complaint filed in the
U.S. Ukraine has very low polio vaccination
levels and UNICEF recently warned of a
significant risk to the country, stemming from
refugees fleeing the war in Syria.96 For this
reason, Ukrainian law prohibits importers
from marking up the price of medicines by
more than 10%.97
According to court documents, Interfarm
used an anonymous company from Oregon
as a fake middleman to trick the government
into purchasing vaccines at around double
the cost price.98 According to the complaint,
Interfarm was purchasing vaccines directly
from the manufacturer.99 If this turned out to
be true, it would have led to fewer vaccines
being purchased, and therefore fewer adults
and children being vaccinated. One of the
vaccines involved was against polio.100
The case was not contested and default
judgment was awarded against the Oregon
company in 2011. U.S. courts ordered the
company to repay $60 million to the Ukrainian state pharmaceutical supplier.101
Ex-Ukrainian Prime Minister Lazarenko stole
millions from his people (CA, DE)
The ex-Prime Minister of Ukraine, Pavel Lazarenko, was sent to jail in the United States
in 2006 for laundering tens of millions of
dollars of money that rightfully belonged to
the Ukrainian people.93 He was partly able to
do this by using anonymous companies incorporated in Delaware and California.94 One of
the companies was used to funnel money into
the U.S. to buy himself a $7 million house in
Democracy is built on principles of openness and
equality. Citizens in functioning democracies expect
access to information about how money is used,
equality of influence over the election process,
and scrutiny of public officials to make sure they
are doing their jobs, and that public money is
being spent properly.
These principles are undone by the secrecy that
anonymous companies offer. They allow politicians
to further their own interests rather than representing
the needs of their people, and open up the possibility
of vested interests buying influence over politicians
by financing their election campaigns.
We won’t end graft in politics simply by bringing
company ownership into the open – but we definitely
won’t end it if we allow unscrupulous individuals
to hide behind anonymous American companies.
This page: Photo: Flickr / Creative
Commons / KP Tripathi
Right: Former Rep. Williams Jefferson,
D-La., pictured here, used anonymous
companies to accept almost half
a million dollars in bribes.
Photo: AP Photo / Charles Dharapak
U.S. Congressman keeps his bribe
money on ice (DE, LA)
Former Louisiana Congressman William J.
Jefferson is probably best known for getting
caught with $90,000 in bribe money in his
freezer.102 What is less well known is that
he used anonymous shell companies from
Delaware and Louisiana to take almost half a
million dollars in bribes.103
Jefferson funneled bribe payments through
companies, using family members, congressional staffers and others as nominees to
disguise his control over the company and his
involvement in the deals.104 According to the
Justice Department, “The business ventures
that Jefferson sought to promote included
telecommunications deals in Nigeria, Ghana
and elsewhere; oil concessions in Equatorial
Guinea; satellite transmission contracts in
Botswana, Equatorial Guinea and the Republic of Congo; and development of different
plants and facilities in Nigeria.”105
Jefferson was convicted in August 2009 and
ultimately sentenced to 13 years in prison.106
Anonymous companies disguising campaign
contributions (DE)
Anonymous company ownership has also
been used to disguise campaign contributions
and potential efforts to buy influence over the
democratic process in the U.S.
During the 2012 election cycle, NBC reported that a shell company with anonymous
owners made a $1 million donation to Restore
Our Future, a pro-Mitt Romney PAC. The
company was incorporated in Delaware only
six weeks before making the donation. It then
quickly dissolved, leaving no trace of the
person who controlled it two weeks before the
PAC made its first campaign filing of the year,
which was the first time the public could see
its donors.107
The negative publicity surrounding this
news report led the anonymous company
owner to identify himself as Edward Conard
(a former Bain Capital executive), which the
PAC later confirmed. Conard said that he had
made the donation after consulting with lawyers who had reassured him that the donation
would comply with election finance laws.108
In this instance, public outrage drew the
financier into the open - but there is no reason
to believe that this is a one-off. As long as
people are able to hide the payments they
make to political campaigns behind American
shell companies with anonymous owners,
voters cannot know who is buying what kind
of influence over their decision-makers.
These cases illustrate how anonymous company owners operating throughout the U.S.
have been able to rip off innocent American
citizens and businesses across the country
and around the world.
But for every case that has been exposed,
many more remain hidden. As things stand,
anonymous owners are able to steal from the
state, business and ordinary people while
remaining faceless and unaccountable. It’s
easy and the structures are entirely legal.
This must end. Given that anyone can incorporate a company anywhere in the world, we
need a global solution to this problem.
That is why every country must require all
companies to disclose who ultimately owns
and controls them and this information must
be accessible to the public.
But this global standard must be led by
the U.S., where so many of the world’s anonymous companies are set up.
There is growing recognition in the U.S.
and around the world that something must
be done to stop companies with anonymous
owners from harming innocent people.
Despite this, it remains quite easy and perfectly legal to set up an American company
with anonymous owners.
“The audience — including investigators from
nine federal law enforcement agencies and
prosecutors from a variety of districts and
offices — was attending a financial investigation seminar designed to teach them how
to investigate the financial aspects of international criminal organizations. The instructor,
who was lecturing on U.S. shell companies,
asked the members of the audience to raise
their hand if they had ever reached a dead
end in one of their investigations because
of a U.S. shell company. Nearly every person in
the room raised his or her hand. Departmental
instructors report that such a response is
common in money laundering courses
delivered both domestically and abroad.”
Jennifer Shasky, then-Senior Counsel to the Deputy Attorney
General, U.S. Department of Justice, Testimony before the
Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs,
November 5, 2009.
Global Momentum
In the last two years global momentum to
tackle this problem has been building.
In 2013, the issue of anonymous company
owners was high on the agenda of the G8.
All G8 countries, including the U.S., endorsed
broad principles about company ownership
disclosure and agreed to take concrete steps
to tackle the problem.
The U.K. is moving forward with the world’s
first public registry of beneficial ownership
information.109 This means that anyone will
be able to find out who ultimately owns and
controls British companies, even if they are
owned by an offshore company. The Europ­
ean Union is currently considering the issue
of anonymous company ownership through
an update to its anti-money laundering directive. In March 2014, the European Parliament
voted overwhelmingly in favor of creating
public registries of the ultimate owners of
companies and trusts. The governments of
European Union member states need to agree
before this becomes law.
When the G20 meets in November 2014 in
Australia, the issue of companies with anonymous owners will be on the agenda and all
G20 countries are expected to make commitments to address this issue.
Finding a solution to this problem
in the United States
In the U.S., the Obama Administration has
committed to push for legislation that would
require meaningful disclosure of beneficial
ownership information at the time an American company is formed.110
Transparency of the real owners of companies is so important to our national security
that President Obama also included a commitment to work with Congress on this issue
in his Strategy to Combat Transnational
Organized Crime.111
Key figures in Congress are seeking to end
anonymous company ownership in America,
and since 2008 there have been bipartisan
bills pending in Congress that would require
American companies to disclose their beneficial owners when they incorporate and to
keep that information up to date.
However, legislation remains stalled because
of organized opposition from the National
Association of Secretaries of State and their
allies. Its members have expressed concern
over the perceived cost of collecting this
information on their budgets.
There are sound financial reasons for this
move. A change in the law would save money
from states’ budgets by reducing the time and
money currently spent trying to track down
the anonymous company owners behind so
many crimes in the U.S.
The law would also generate new revenue
for states, by increasing the collection of fines,
penalties, and asset forfeitures that result
from the improved ability of law enforcement
to pursue and prosecute criminals. The Departments of Justice and Treasury
have offered $40 million of the money they
have recovered from prosecuting precisely
the types of criminals that this bill would help
stop in their tracks to offset the cost of states
updating their systems to include beneficial
ownership information.
A public registry of company owners would
provide law enforcement with a critical tool
in the fight against financial crime and the
financing of terrorism, which is why company
ownership transparency has widespread support from the law enforcement commun­ity.
It also has support from small businesses,
investors, faith leaders, organized labor,
public interest groups and human rights
and anti-corruption advocates.
Momentum is building – the U.S. needs a
policy solution that will solve the problem
wholesale. Therefore, any proposal to increase
beneficial ownership transparency in the U.S.
must do the following:
1. Collect information about all of the
company’s beneficial owners;
2. Define “beneficial owner” as a real human
being, not another company, and not a
nominee (someone who is listed as the
owner on behalf of another person);
3. Include in the definition of “beneficial
owner” individuals who control a company
through unofficial means, such as trusts or
power-of-attorney arrangements, outside
legal ownership or acting as a corporate
officer; and
4. Place beneficial ownership information
in the public domain.
Below: G8 leaders gathering in Northern
Ireland in 2013 pledged to tackle
anonymous companies.
Photo: AP Photo / Matt Dunham
When beneficial ownership information is only
maintained by the company or the state only
requires the company to disclose the name of
a communications contact, it isn’t useful to
law enforcement. Investigations that follow
the money often lead to a company. To find
out who is behind the company, law enforcement would be forced to tip off the company
that it was under investigation. This gives
criminals time to remove themselves, their
assets and their operations from the country.
Congress must pass legislation that requires
all American companies to disclose their
ultimate owners to the government when they
incorporate and to keep this information up
to date, and require the government entity
collecting the information to make it publicly
available. This could happen at either the
state or federal level. What is critical is that
actual beneficial ownership information is
collected (not just a contact at the company)
and that it is made available to law enforcement, tax authorities, financial institutions
and the general public.
White House
Given that government procurement is a high
risk sector for fraud and corruption, often
facilitated by anonymous companies, the
Obama Administration should act immed­
iately to require all companies that receive a
contract, loan or grant from any agency within the United States government to disclose
their beneficial ownership information to the
government. In the spirit of the Open Government Partnership, the Administration should
make this information available to the public.
This is an issue whose time has
come – stopping criminals from
using anonymous companies
will help stamp out a raft of more
visible crimes in the U.S. and
beyond. There is no moral or
economic argument for the status
quo – and we can easily change it.
1 Puppet Masters, a report by the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (of the World
Bank and UNODC),
2 Michael Findley, Daniel Nielson, & Jason Sharman, Global Shell Games:
Experiments in Transnational Relations, Crime and terrorism, Cambridge
Studies in International Relations, 2014, can be purchased at: http://www.
3 national-security-spending.html
4 Statement of Facts, Case 1:13-cr-00305-LMB:
documents/1280319- johnson-keith-johnson-statement-of-facts.html
5 Reuters, “How two shell companies duped the Pentagon” 2011/06/28/
21 U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York Manhattan U.S. Attorney
Announces Court Judgment Finding Midtown Office Building Secretly Owned
And Controlled By Government Of Iran Subject To Forfeiture For Violations
Of The Iranian Transactions Regulations And Money Laundering Offenses, 17
September 2013,
AlaviSummaryJudgmentPR.php; Time Magazine, Why US law helps shield
global criminality, 2 Feb 2010
22 Indictment (p 9-10): indictment.html#document/p9/a172495 and https://www. kazarian-indictment.html#document/
p10/a172508. Indictment: documents/1273797kazarian-indictment.html#document/p22/a172501.
6 Plea Agreement (Kan): plea.html#document/p1/a174207
23 Indictment:

24 U.S. Department of Justice Press Release, 8 July 2011:
newyork/press-releases/ 2011/leader-of-armenian-organized-crime-ring-pleadsguilty-in-manhattan-federal-court-to- racketeering
7 Plea Agreement (New York Machinery):
files/pdffiles/2010/ New%20York%20Machinery%20Plea%20PR.pdf
25 U.S. Department of Justice Press Release, 8 February 2013: http://www.justice.
gov/usao/nys/ pressreleases/February13/KazarianArmenSentencingPR.php
8 U.S. Department of Justice press release 22 Aug 2012:
usao/ut/news/ 2012/08-22.html
26 U.S. Department of Justice Press Release, 8 February 2013 http://www.justice.
gov/usao/nys/ pressreleases/February13/KazarianArmenSentencingPR.php
9 U.S. Department of Justice press release 22 Aug 2012:
usao/ut/news/ 2012/08-22.html
27 28
10 U.S. Department of Justice press release 22 Aug 2012:
usao/ut/news/ 2012/08-22.html
29 Plea Agreement Case 09-CR-20523-CR-Seitz, (p.13) https://www.
11 Names of nominee entities:
documents/1272837-young- indictment.html#document/p4/a171218; payments
through nominee entities: https:// and https://www.documentcloud.
30 FBI Press Release, 13 April 2010, 31 FBI Press Release, 13 April 2010, http://www.fbi.
12 Plea Deal (Young), p 6-7: deal.html
13 U.S. Department of Justice Press Release, 13 June 2013:
usao/ut/news/ 2014/06-13.html
14 New York Times, A Drug Family in the Winner’s Circle, 12 June 2012, http:// 2012/06/13/us/drug-money-from-mexico-makes-its-way-tothe-racetrack.html?pagewanted=all
15 U.S. Department of Justice, Federal grand jury indicts Los Zetas leader in
money laundering scheme, 12 June 2012,
news/2012/Trevino%20LZ%20indictment %20release.pdf
17 and
18 U.S. Department of Justice Press Release, 17 April 2014: http://www.justice.
gov/usao/nys/ pressreleases/April14/650FifthAvSettlementPR.php
20 Opinion and Order, Case 1:08-cv-10934-KBF, 16 September
2013: pressreleases/September13/
32 Indictment p 12:
DOJ press release 18 June 2013
and Indictment p 13: http://
33 Indictment p 13:
34 Indictment p 30:
36 Names of some of the DE companies used in scheme in indictment:
37 Name of NV company in indictment:
documents/1272854-shoss- shoss-indictment.html#document/p5/a171231
38 Homeland Security Investigations Press Release:
releases/ 1307/130725tampa.htm
39 All from Homeland Security Investigations Press Release:
news/releases/ 1307/130725tampa.htm
40 Homeland Security Investigations Press Release
releases/ 1307/130725tampa.htm
41 U.S. Department of Justice press release 9 July 2013:
usao/ohn/news/ 2013/09julypala.html
42 Indictment p 2-3, Case: 1:13-cr-00167-BYP; DOJ press release 11 April 2013:
http:// and special audit: auditsearch/Reports/2012/Cuyahoga_Heights_LSD_0711_Special_Cuyahoga_Report.pdf
43 Indictment p 12-16 (quote is on page 12), Case: 1:13-cr-00167-BYP

44 U.S. Department of Justice Press Release 11 April 2013:
usao/ohn/news/ 2013/11aprilcuy.html
45 U.S. Department of Justice Press Release 9 July 2013:
usao/ohn/news/ 2013/09julypala.html
64 U.S. Department of Justice Press Release, 9 May 2011.
opa/pr/2011/May/ 11-crt-589.html
65 David S. Cohen, Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence at
the Treasury Department, CNBC op-ed, 1 August 2014:
66 Floyd Norris, ‘Demystify the Lehman Shell Game,’ New York Times, 1 April
2010, http://
47 FBI Press Release, 15 December 2010:
67 Case: 13-cr-00074-GBl, Statement of Facts and here 68 Case: 13-cr-00074-GBI,
Statement of Facts and here
48 FBI Press Release, 15 December 2010: co121510.htm
69 U.S. Department of Justice Press Release 21 June 2013:
opa/pr/2013/June/ 13-crm-701.html
49 Federal Indictment: federal-indictment.html#document/p3/a174151
70 71
50 Federal indictment: federal-indictment.html#document/p2/a174153
51 FBI Press Release, 20 November 2009: co112009.htm
52 Federal indictment (p.4-5):
documents/1279473-pough-mcqueen- brunson-federal-indictment.
53 Federal indictment (p 5):
documents/1279473-pough-mcqueen- brunson-federal-indictment.
html#document/p5/a174154 and FBI press release 15 December 2010 : http://
54 Federal Indictment: federal-indictment.html#document/p2/a174153
and FBI Press Release 15 December 2010: http://
59 U.S. ICE Press Release, 27 May 2009:
releases/0905/090527kansascity.htm and U.S. U.S. Department of Justice Press
Release: crt-589.html
72 Superseding Indictment p 14-15:
documents/1278690-indictment- mogilevich.html#annotation/a175321and indictment-mogilevich.
73 Superseding Indictment:
documents/1278690-indictment- mogilevich.html#annotation/a175320
75 Superseding Indictment p 14-15:
77 Indictment p 9,
78 Indictment p. 17, indictment.html
79 Rutgers Investment Group. Indictment p 9 – 10: https://www.documentcloud.
org/documents/ 1263605-scarfo-nicodemo-et-al-indictment.html#document/
80 Indictment p 7, indictment.html
81 Indictment p 6, 38, 44-46,
documents/1263605-scarfo-nicodemo- et-al-indictment.html

82 organized-crime-family-convicted-of-racketeering-and-othercrimes
61 Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana,
Massachusetts, Missouri, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, South Carolina
and Wyoming (indictment p 8) : https://

62 U.S. Department of Justice Press Release 9 May 2011.
opa/pr/2011/May/11- crt-589.html and indictment: https://www.documentcloud.
org/documents/1265406-askarkhodjaev- indictment.html#document/p22/
63 Indictment p 8 – 14 lists companies linked to scheme: https://www. 1265406-askarkhodjaev-indictment.html
html#document/p5/ a171217
84 Pokela factual basis statement, p.3.
documents/1272822-austin- pokela-statement-of-factual-basis.html#document/
p3/a171170 and Indictment p. 7 https://
html#document/p2/ a174614
87 sentenced-in-south-dakota-for-conspiracy-to-commit-wirefraud
102 FBI, Rooting Out Corruption: A Look Back at the
Jefferson Case. 2013/
88 U.S. Department of Justice, Department of Justice Seeks to Recover More
Than $70.8 Million in Proceeds of Corruption from Government Minister
of Equatorial Guinea, 25 October 2011, http://
103 FBI, Rooting Out Corruption: A Look Back at the Jefferson
Case. Accessed 11/21/13 via http://
89 United States District Court for the Central District of California, USA vs one
white crystal-studded ‘Bad Tour’ glove and other Michael Jackson memorabilia;
real property located on Sweetwater Mesa Road in Malabu, California; one 2011
Ferrari 599 GTO, page 49, available from http://
90 Browning, Lynnley, ‘Delaware Laws, Helpful to Arms Trafficker, to Be
Scrutinized,’ New York Times, 4 November 2009: http://www.nytimes.
91 Ostfeld, Stefanie, ‘Why UN arms negotiations must include talk of ending
corporate secrecy,’ al Jazeera, 28 March 2013:
opinion/ 2013/03/201332811291117590.html and Written Testimony of U.S.
Department of the Treasury Assistant Secretary Daniel L. Glaser before the
Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism,
1 November 2011:
104 Indictment: p37/a174256
105 U.S. Department of Justice Press Release, 5 August 2009, http://www.justice.
gov/opa/pr/2009/ August/09-crm-775.html
106 FBI, Rooting Out Corruption: A Look Back at the Jefferson Case. 2013/
107 Isikoff, Michael, ‘Firm gives $1 million to pro-Romney group, then dissolves,’
NBC News, 4 August 2011, http://www.msnbc.msn.
firm-gives-million-pro- romney-group-then-dissolves/?ns=politics-decision_2012
108 Isikoff, Michael, ‘Mystery million-dollar Romney donor revealed,’ NBC News,
6 August 2011, http:// ns=politics&#.VANoevmwLYh
92 Associated Press, ‘Russian Viktor Bout convicted over Colombian arms
deal,’ 2 November 2011:
109 Speech by David Cameron at the Open Government Partnership summit,
London, 31 October 2013,
93 FBI, San Francisco Department, Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Sentenced
to 97 Months in Prison Fined $9 Million for Role in Laundering $30 Million of
Extortion Proceeds, 19 November 2009, http://
110 White House Fact Sheet about G8 commitment and U.S. National Action Plan
on Preventing the Misuse of Companies and Legal Arrangements, 18 June 2013, office/2013/06/18/fact-sheet-us-nationalaction-plan-preventing-misuse-companies-and-legal and Open Government
Partnership U.S. National Action Plan advocacy commitment. P. 5: http:// www.
94 SA vs Pavel Ivanovych Lazarenko, second superceding indictment, p 2,
available from
95 Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative, database, Pavel I Lazarenko, https:// cases/node/18662 and Dugsbery, http://star. Further details of how Lazarenko
bought a bank to help launder money available from Puppet Masters, Stolen
Asset Recovery Initiative,
96 Ukraine polio outbreak risk, UNICEF [accessed 7/22/14]: http://www.unicef.
org/ukraine/ media_25037.html

97 Oregon District Court complaint from Ukrvaktsina [accessed 7/8/14], p.
7., Resources/Documents/Blog%20Docs/10-09-17%20
98 Oregon District Court complaint from Ukrvaktsina [accessed 7/8/14], pp. 2, 6,
7, 9., http://
Ukrvaktsina%20Oregon %20Litigation.pdf
99 Oregon District Court complaint from Ukrvaktsina [accessed 7/8/14], pp. 4,
7, 9., http://
Ukrvaktsina%20Oregon %20Litigation.pdf
100 Oregon District Court complaint from Ukrvaktsina [accessed 7/8/14], p.
9., Resources/Documents/Blog%20Docs/10-09-17%20
101 Oregon District Court default judgment against Olden [accessed 7/9/14], p.
2., https://
111 President’s Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime, July 2011. See
p. 21: http:// crime.pdf.

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