My law degree wasn’t meant for money laundering. But boy, it would make it easy.
I didn’t pursue a law degree to learn how to launder money for human traffickers, opioid kingpins or corrupt public officials. But my legal training has helped me to understand just how easy it would be.
Anonymous companies are ubiquitous in most money-laundering schemes, and in the allegations against Trump campaign associates Paul Manafort and Richard Gates. Shell companies are formed with no record of the true owners, and because they are so easy to set up — especially if you’re a lawyer — you can easily layer dozens of them to confuse investigators and hide dirty money.
A Delaware-based LLC could own a Nevada-based C corporation, which could be owned by a Panamanian company, and on and on. That makes it nearly impossible for investigators to untangle these webs. In 2012, Cyrus Vance Jr., district attorney of New York County, said this about anonymous companies: “My office, time and time again, finds its criminal investigations thwarted by an absurd system of secrecy whereby criminals can hide their money.”
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