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Use of non-financial professionals and other corporate vehicles

Corporate vehicles are legal persons of all types as well as various legal arrangements that are often misused in order to hide the true origin, ownership and purpose of activities related to money laundering and terrorist financing. Apart from obscuring the identity of the beneficial owner of a property or the origin and destination of funds, these corporate vehicles can be used in criminal schemes as a source of legal income.

The legislation of most of the countries, where notaries’ services are essential in real estate transactions, does not prohibit out-of-sight payments; this implies that notaries and other legal practitioners are legally permitted to endorse such out-of-sight payments for the lease, sale and/or purchase of real estate property. This disposition makes these corporate vehicles vulnerable to abuse by criminals who intend to disguise the origin as well as the beneficial owner of the funds or property. This not only opens an avenue for corruption by the corporate vehicles themselves but also attracts criminals to use them to launder their criminal proceeds for a fee. In addition to shell companies, there are other specialised companies that carry out legitimate businesses relating to real estate which have sometimes been misused for money laundering purposes. The use of corporate vehicles is further facilitated if the company is entirely owned or controlled by criminals.

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