Corporate Law

Wyoming Home Is a ‘Little Cayman Island’ for Shell Companies

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A 1,700 square-foot home in Cheyenne, Wyo., has an outsize impact.

The home is the headquarters for Wyoming Corporate Services, an enterprising business that helps set up shell companies that can be used to hide assets, Reuters reports. The house “serves as a little Cayman Island on the Great Plains,” the story says.

Recent court cases are shedding light on companies registered to that address. Documents in a California case allege one company is sheltering real-estate assets controlled by a jailed former prime minister of Ukraine. Another company was accused in an April indictment of helping poker websites evade a U.S. ban on Internet gambling.

Many incorporation businesses are located in three states with fewer regulations: Delaware, Nevada and Wyoming, the story says. In Wyoming and Nevada, for example, corporate owners can hide their identity by establishing nominee officers and directors, often people employed by the incorporation business.

So-called shelf companies are one method used to conceal corporate ownership, the story explains. Such companies are set up, and then sit on the “shelf” for years. Later they are sold to new owners who may want to use the companies to secure bank loans or bid on contracts. Currently, Wyoming Corporate Services has more than 700 shelf companies for sale.

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