In 2009, a global coalition was pressing governments to lift the veil on corporate secrecy. Its members – U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration, influential senators, international law enforcement agencies, anti-corruption activists and major American allies — presented a formidable front in their campaign against money laundering and tax evasion.
The United States, championing the cause abroad, was also pursuing legislation for stronger disclosure rules at home.
Then along came Jeffrey Bullock, the newly appointed secretary of state for Delaware.His tiny East Coast state was in crisis, heading toward an $800 million budget deficit. Delaware’s second-biggest biggest source of revenue was fees from few-questions-asked company registrations and other corporate services. That cash cow was in danger.
A proposed U.S. law would have required states to track the true owners of the companies they register. The global pushback against shell companies was threatening to dim Delaware’s longstanding appeal as a secretive corporate domicile.Seven years later, the proposed law continues to languish, thanks in part to Bullock.