Levin, Grassley take aim at shell corporations

The legislation, which is now being introduced for the third consecutive Congress, would also require companies bidding on federal contracts to give similar information to the federal government, and install penalties for those who lie about their owners’ information. Grassley and Levin, in their release on the measure, say it would help in the fight against people like Viktor Bout, an accused arms dealer who had shell companies in several U.S. states.

“Prosecutors of financial crimes follow the money,” added Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, in a statement of his own. “It’s hard for them to do that when the owners of shell corporations are able to hide their identities so easily. Setting consequences for submitting false ownership information would help law enforcement by imposing a hardship on the Ponzi schemers, money launderers and tax cheats who use shell corporations to conceal their fraud.”

The measure has the backing of police groups and some liberal tax organizations.