Panama Papers law firm helped create more than 1,000 U.S. companies

Obama on Panama Papers: Some rich are 'gaming the system'
Obama on Panama Papers: Some rich are 'gaming the system'

The law firm at the center of the Panama Papers scandal helped to create more than 1,000 companies in the United States, according to a review of state business registration documents.

A Las Vegas-based subsidiary of law firm Mossack Fonseca is listed as the registered agent for 1,026 firms incorporated over the past decade and a half, many of which have since been dissolved or are no longer active.

In recent days, reports based on a trove of leaked documents from Panama-based Mossack Fonseca have revealed the hidden offshore holdings of powerful individuals and companies from more than 200 countries and territories. CNNMoney hasn't been able to independently verify the reports.

The reports, coordinated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, reference 12 current or former world leaders, as well as 128 other politicians and public officials. Few Americans have been named so far, but journalists involved in the investigation say more revelations are coming.

Related: The law firm at the heart of the Panama Papers scandal

Mossack Fonseca's Nevada subsidiary, MF Corporate Services, is located in an office park near Las Vegas airport. Many of the companies it helped create follow a similar pattern -- they all list officers based in Panama, British Virgin Islands or Seychelles, places the European Commission has labeled as tax havens.

The registration documents for some companies tied to MF Corporate Services list other corporations as company officers, and do not mention any individuals.

Shell companies and offshore accounts are not illegal, but they can be used to mask the origin of financial transactions and ownership. Mossack Fonseca did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday, but it has previously said the reports based on the leaked documents "have misrepresented the nature of our work" and denied that many of the people named by the reports were its clients.

Related: The murky world of offshore tax havens

Mossack Fonseca has in the past tried to distance itself from the Nevada subsidiary, but a U.S. judge ruled in March 2015 that the firms share "unity of interest and ownership," and are the same company.

According to court documents, MF Corporate Services offered "kits" that allowed clients to incorporate in less than 24 hours. The Nevada subsidiary's sole employee has testified that the documents were sent to Mossack Fonseca in Panama to be finalized, the documents show.

Related: 7 things to know about the Panama Papers

Mossack Fonseca has around 40 offices globally, including several in mainland China and others in countries and regions identified as tax havens by the European Commission.

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