Billions in corrupt assets, complex money trails, strings of shell
companies and other spurious legal structures. These form the complex
web of subterfuge in corruption cases, behind which hides the benefi
cial owner—the puppet master and benefi ciary of it all. Linking
the benefi cial owner to the proceeds of corruption is notoriously
hard. With sizable wealth and resources on their side, they exploit
transnational constructions that are hard to penetrate and stay
aggressively ahead of the game.
Nearly all cases of grand corruption have one thing in common. They
rely on corporate vehicles — legal structures such as companies,
foundations, and trusts—to conceal ownership and control of
The Puppet Masters: How the Corrupt Use Legal Structures to Hide
Stolen Assets and What to Do About It takes these corporate
vehicles as its angle of investigation. It builds upon cases,
interviews with investigators, corporate registries and fi nancial
institutions, as well as a “mystery shopping” exercise that
provide factual evidence of a criminal practice. This approach is used
to understand the nature of the problem and design policy
recommendations to facilitate the investigative process by unraveling
the complex world of corporate vehicles.
This report is solidly built on step-by-step arguments and designed
to deliver practical, applicable, and well substantiated
recommendations. It is intended for use by policy makers in developing
national legislation and regulation as well as international standard
setters. It also provides helpful information for practitioners engaged
in investigating corrupt offi cials and academics involved in the study
of fi nancial crime.
For more information about the report, please visit http://wwwr.worldbank.org/star.
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