USA Today reports: The law firm at the hub of a global financial scandal has links to more than 1,000 U.S. companies, formed mostly in Nevada and Wyoming since 2001, but appears to have largely escaped the scrutiny of U.S. financial regulators — at least in public.
The leak this week of more than 11 million records from the Panamanian firm, Mossack Fonseca, has led to a global uproar that prompted Iceland’s prime minister to step aside Tuesday. An international consortium of journalists has reported the documents tie the firm, which specializes in shell companies that can be used to conceal assets, to Russian oligarchs, former heads of state and world soccer’s scandal-plagued governing body.
Yet despite those apparent dealings and its operations in the United States, the firm has appeared in only a scattering of court cases and regulatory filings. Most involve government attempts to track money the authorities believed had been concealed behind overseas shell companies the firm helped establish.
The Justice Department is “reviewing the reports” published by international journalists, the head of its Criminal Division, Leslie Caldwell, said Tuesday, but declined to elaborate.
The firestorm around Mossack Fonseca has been tied mostly to its work for foreign customers. But state incorporation records show the firm helped set up nearly 1,100 business entities in the United States since 2001.
The majority of U.S.-based companies linked to Mossack Fonseca were formed in Nevada by M.F. Corporate Services (Nevada) Limited, a one-employee company based out of a low-slung tile-roofed office building 20 miles from the Las Vegas strip. MF Nevada has served as the registered agent for 1,026 business entities since 2001, according to USA TODAY’s review of Nevada business documents. [Continue reading…]