The Guardian

How Canada became an offshore destination for 'snow washing'

The country’s opaque jurisdictions allow owners of private companies to remain anonymous and the firms to remain in the shadows
The frozen Lake Ontario with Toronto skyline in the background. Because of lax rules, ‘privately held companies can easily be abused for tax evasion, for money laundering purposes and to stash the proceeds of crime’, said a lawyer. Photograph: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images

Canada is one the world’s most opaque jurisdictions when it comes to identifying the owners of private companies and trusts, according to anti-corruption campaigners who say that more rigorous checks are required to obtain a library card than to set up a company in the country.

“Anyone can start a company in Canada. It costs about C$200 and the owner of the company can remain completely anonymous,” said lawyer Mora Johnson, who recently authored a report detailing the country’s lax rules around corporate registration.

While publicly traded firms in

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The Guardian

The Guardian7 min read
Can Planting Billions Of Trees Save The Planet?
When Clare Dubois’s car skidded on an icy road in Stroud, Gloucestershire, a tree prevented her vehicle tumbling into a ravine. It was, she says, a sign. Humanity is nearing a precipice. Trees can stop us going over the edge. This calling was so stro
The Guardian9 min read
Don't Give Up! How To Stay Healthy, Happy And Combative In Impossible Political Times
Walk the dog, let go with a cry, head to the gym or have sex. Leading campaigners on how to look after yourself before heading back into the fray
The Guardian3 min read
Nuclear Weapons: Experts Alarmed By New Pentagon 'War-fighting' Doctrine
US joint chiefs of staff posted then removed paper that suggests nuclear weapons could ‘create conditions for decisive results’