March 19, 2007, - 9:50 am
By Debbie Schlussel
Two news stories, today, show why it’s so easy for terrorists and illegal aliens to set up shop here and get away with it.
First, there are the two retired IRS agents, Michael McDonald and Steven Smith. They formed an anonymous corporation and wired funds overseas with no identifying trail for law enforcement authorities. That’s what a lot of well-known terror suspects have done and easily laundered money. And, well past 9/11, we’ve done nothing to tighten our laws. It cost the agents only $4,000 and one month’s time to form a scecret company, and wire funds to and from an offshore bank with no traceability. From USA Today:
What does it take to create secretive U.S. companies capable of wiring funds to and from an offshore bank with virtually no identifying trail for law enforcement authorities? About one month and $4,000.
Demonstrating how easily tax evaders, money launderers or terrorists can hide behind secretive domestic firms, two retired IRS agents formed anonymously owned companies in Florida, New York and Panama, then wired money among the firms’ bank accounts.
“Our point is to show the world how easy it is ‚Ä¶ to move money in and out, using U.S. companies, without a trace,” said Charles Intriago, a former federal prosecutor. “This is a glaring problem.”
His firm, Alert Global Media, began the research project at the start of 2006 for presentation at a money-laundering conference set to open today in Florida. . . .
The retired IRS investigators, Michael McDonald and Steven Smith, turned to the mini-industry to launch the demonstration. First, they contacted one of many Nevada firms that specialize in forming secretive business entities.
The agents said the firm, which they declined to name, registered Greenlink Ventures in New York and Franklin Grant & Associates Management in Florida. The firm also advised using Internet banks for corporate accounts, they said.
Smith used his real name throughout the process and obeyed all laws. However, by using the Nevada firm, he was able to create the firms and get an IRS identification number without giving his Social Security number.
Smith provided the name Bange Mason – named for Intriago’s family dog ‚Äî when required to list an alternate company contact in case of an emergency.
“There’s nothing on any of these companies that’s public where you will find my name,” said Smith.
Indeed, Florida and New York records for the firms list little more than a California mailing address.
Next, the former IRS agents created Grupo Griffin Internacional in Panama and opened an account there. Smith said the Panama bank required notarized copies of the first page of his passport and both sides of his driver’s license.
“Surprisingly, it was more difficult to form an account there than it was in the U.S.,” said Smith.
Last week, after the registration process was complete, Smith and McDonald wired $9,000 from the Florida company to Grupo Griffin’s Panama bank. Then they wired the funds to the Internet bank account of the New York company. The transactions would be almost impossible to trace, the agents said.
“The U.S. beats up on these small island countries, from Antigua to Nauru to everyplace else, for not having adequate (corporate) controls,” said McDonald. “Yet we have control problems in our states.”
Then, there’s the Internet Security Threat Report from Symantec. It reports that fierce competition in the hacking world of organized crime is driving down prices for stolen information. For $1, anyone can purchase a valid credit card number and for $14, a complete identity–including a date of birth, bank account, credit card, and government-issued ID numbers.
The ease of forming untraceable companies and obtaining a complete phony identity make it very easy for anyone who doesn’t belong here to stay and launder and transfer money to fund nefarious operations–like terrorism–overseas (or here).
Time to finally do something about this, as far as we can–through biometrics and tightened up corporate formation laws requiring more detailed information.
Tags: advised using Internet, Alert Global Media, Antigua, bank, bank account, bank accounts, California, Charles Intriago, Debbie Schlussel Two, federal prosecutor, Florida, Franklin Grant & Associates Management, Greenlink Ventures, Internal Revenue Service, Internet bank account, Internet Security Threat Report, law enforcement authorities, Michael McDonald, Nauru, Nevada, New York, offshore bank, Panama, Steven Smith, Symantec, United States, USA Today, USD