Company Formations: Minimal Ownership Information Is Collected and Available

GAO-07-196T Published: Nov 14, 2006. Publicly Released: Nov 14, 2006.
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Highlights

Companies, which are the basis of most commercial activities in market-based economies, may be used for illicit as well as legitimate purposes. Because companies can be used to hide activities such as money laundering, some states have been criticized for requiring too little information about companies when they are formed, especially concerning owners. This testimony draws on GAO's April 2006 report Company Formations: Minimal Ownership Information Is Collected and Available (GAO-06-376), which addressed (1) the information states and other parties collect on companies, (2) law enforcement concerns about the role of companies in illicit activities and the information available on owners, and (3) the implications of collecting more ownership information. GAO surveyed all 50 states and the District of Columbia, reviewed state laws, and interviewed a variety of industry, law enforcement, and other government officials.

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