Most large-scale corruption cases involve using legal entities to conceal ownership and control of corrupt proceeds, and policymakers should take steps to improve transparency to reduce opportunities for wrongdoing, according to a study released today by the Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR) Initiative of the World Bank and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
“We need to put corporate transparency back on the national and international agenda,” said Emile van der Does de Willebois, World Bank Senior Financial Sector Specialist who led the StAR research team. “It is important for governments to increase the transparency of their legal entities and arrangements and at the same time improve the capacity of law enforcement.”
The report, The Puppet Masters: How the Corrupt Use Legal Structures to Hide Stolen Assets and What to Do About It, 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.