Blog | Aug. 22, 2014

Voices from Delaware are speaking out against anonymous company ownership

Our campaign to stop criminals using anonymous companies to cover their tracks is getting traction in some unexpected places.

Last month we wrote about how politicians in Delaware were starting to speak out about their state’s role as a corporate secrecy haven. Half of the state legislators had sent a letter to the Delaware Congressional Delegation, urging them to support bipartisan federal legislation introduced by Senators Levin (MI-D) and Grassley (IA-R) to deal with anonymous companies.

A few weeks ago we were invited to speak about this issue at a community forum organized by the Delaware chapters of Americans for Democratic Action and the National Association of Social Workers. I was on a panel with two Delaware state legislators, the head of a local social justice organization and the Deputy Secretary of State of Delaware.

Anonymous in Delaware

Now we’re starting to see ordinary citizens from Delaware speak out as well. This week there have been a number of letters to the editor in the Delaware News Journal.

As David S. Cassling from Newark wrote:

“This issue is critical to Delaware since it is a center for incorporation and needs to stand up for transparency in business dealings. Our state should lead the way to restore a measure of trust in our economic system, which is eroding due to abuses of corporate law.”

We very much agree with this sentiment. Global Witness is working hard in the US, as well as with the EU, UK and G20 to end the devastation caused by the anonymous ownership of companies. It’s currently too easy for corrupt politicians, money launderers, drug kingpins and other criminals to hide their identity and their tainted funds behind complicated corporate structures. For more information on how this happens, read our short report – Poverty, Corruption and Anonymous Companies. You can also watch Global Witness’ founder, Charmian Gooch, speak about the issue as she accepts this year’s TED Prize.

There were also letters from Amy ShayBarbara Wilcox and Ezra Temko. This is an issue which really affects ordinary citizens in America and elsewhere. The time has come to stop it.


  • Stefanie Ostfeld

    Deputy Head of US Office