Where’s the easiest place in the world to set up an untraceable shell company? According to research by a group of academics the answer is Kenya. East Africa’s biggest economy tops a list of places in which incorporation agents are least likely to ask questions about the ownership of shell companies – groups which serve as a vehicle for business transactions, without active operations or meaningful assets.

In a study of 3,700 incorporation agents over 182 countries, Kenya emerged as the nation in which agents were least likely to ask for proper identification.
High quality global journalism requires investment. Kenya emerged as the nation in which agents were least likely to ask for proper identification.

“We found that law firms in Kenya were pretty willing to set up a shell company no questions asked for even obviously high risk customers,” says Jason Sharman, one of the authors of the Global Shell Games: Testing Money Launderers’ and Terrorist Financiers’ Access to Shell Companies report. “The checks were non-existent. They were incredibly insensitive to risk, and the attitude was basically: ‘We don’t care who you are, if you have the money we have the company for you’”.

For the most part, the report found that it was easier to establish anonymous shell companies in OECD countries than their developing counterparts. But Kenya isn’t the only African nation to feature high up the rankings – Ghana is listed as the fifth easiest place in which to do so.

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