Corporate Owners Hide Assets, Identities
office is registered in a modest business suite located off West Sahara Avenue.
Great Fortune 600 is registered in the same suite. So are DK Financial, Hill 99, Stock
Savant, ZZYZX Holdings — and more than 1,000 other corporations.
They share something in common besides their business address. Each lists the same man
as its sole corporate officer in Nevada incorporation records. He is William Reed, a
businessman with a suspended law license and the target of a Federal Trade Commission
lawsuit that alleges he and a convicted felon teamed in a business that promoted forming
Nevada corporations to shield assets "from 'capricious federal judges and any government
A USA TODAY computer-aided review shows that the two men and their business,
Asset Protection Group, are part of a thriving mini-industry that has capitalized on real or
perceived gaps in domestic incorporation laws and virtually non-existent government
oversight to promote some U.S. states as secrecy rivals of offshore havens.
A multi-agency U.S. Money Laundering Threat Assessment issued in 2005 cited Nevada,
Wyoming and Delaware as the states with laws most conducive to anonymous corporate
ownership. USA TODAY's review, which examined databases of all Nevada and
Wyoming incorporations but was unable to obtain comprehensive data for Delaware,
•A Florida man who served a federal prison term for an international currency trading
scam used his secret ownership of a Nevada corporation to launch a similar fraud after he
was released. More than 120 victims lost $8 million.
•Interpol or other international investigators probing suspected crimes overseas have
contacted the Wyoming Secretary of State's office about corporations registered by a
businessman whose Internet-based venture advertised using Wyoming firms to shield
•The sole publicly listed officer for nearly 100 firms incorporated in Wyoming is a
woman whose listed address is a postal box in the Republic of Seychelles, an Indian
Ocean nation that has been the focus of corporate secrecy concerns.
Jalil contended that the IRS and law enforcement investigators can check on any
company by examining bank records. Claiming that corporation secrecy laws can block
investigators "doesn't sound like reality to me," Jalil said.
But the internal workings of some corporations prove particularly resistant to
transparency. Wyoming incorporation records show that at least 90 companies created
since 2002 list Stella Port-Louis as the sole listed officer. Many of the firms, such as
Export Deutschland AG and Motorcomsa S.A., have foreign corporate names.
The only address for Port-Louis listed in the records is a postal box in the Republic of
Seychelles. A USA TODAY interview request mailed in January to Port-Louis' postal
box could not be delivered. Port-Louis did not respond to a message relayed via
Registered Agency Services, the Cheyenne company that is the local agent for the
corporations that list her as an officer.
JoLyn Jordan, an official of Registered Agency Services, a firm that files incorporations,
said she believed Port-Louis was a nominee for owners outside the USA. "I don't know
who she is, or if she's for real," said Jordan. Asked how to determine if they were shell
firms created for crime, Jordan said, "You don't know."
Jack Blum, an international tax expert and former special counsel to the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee, said money laundering investigations have historically focused on
the Seychelles. While saying he had no information about the Port-Louis firms, he said
the filings seemed designed to frustrate.
"Whoever's trying to research it will go batty," said Blum.
Contributing: Barbara Hansen
USA Today article