The debate in California over how owners can use LLCs to obscure their identities

Delaware and Nevada aren't the only states where it's possible to set up a company without saying who owns it.

In California, too, owners can set up a limited liability company, or LLC, without telling state officials who's behind the curtain.

That anonymity has come under close scrutiny since the release this week of the so-called Panama Papers, which revealed that dozens of global politicians hid assets in offshore shell companies set up by a Panamanian law firm.

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Op-ed: Sanctions for offshore havens, transparency at home

The United States needs to do much more to crack down on offshore tax evasion and financial opacity.

It should impose clear sanctions on the territories that allow rogue financial institutions to operate. Promoting financial opacity pays off for places like the British Virgin Islands, Panama and the Cayman Islands where hundreds of thousands of shell companies are domiciled.

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Why are there so many anonymous corporations in Delaware?

From the Federal Election Commission’s suggestion that it might finally begin scrutinizing donations to super PACs from mystery limited liability corporations (LLCs) to the revelations in the Panama Papers, LLCs are very in right now.

The leak of the Panama Papers reportedly shows the use of offshore shell companies to hide cash by many high-profile foreign figures, from highly-paid soccer star Lionel Messi to the prime minister of Iceland, but the lack of Americans implicated in the investigations has raised eyebrows in the international community.

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