JACKSON, Wyo. — It’s not something you can order at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar — though Jackson’s famous honky-tonk makes an appearance in the Washington Post this week, too.
The “Cowboy Cocktail,” according to an article published in the Washington Post this week, is the perfect combination a Wyoming trusts, plus tax laws and “coveted financial arrangements” that allow the ultra-wealthy to “move and spend money in extraordinary secrecy, protected by some of the strongest privacy laws in the country and, in some cases, without even the cursory oversight performed by regulators in other states.”
In other words: dozens of some of the world’s wealthiest people use Wyoming to hide and move their money. Billionaires from around the world have “abandoned international financial centers for law firms in Wyoming’s ski resorts and mining towns, helping to turn the state into one of the world’s tax havens,” the Post reports.
Among them: Moscow billionaire Igor Makarov; Argentina’s Baggio family, whose beverage company was accused of “dumping industrial waste and whose son is embroiled in an investigation into money laundering;” Dominican polo player Kalil Haché Malkún, who managed the estates for dictator Rafael Trujillio.
Trust companies are now a lucrative industry in themselves in Wyoming, and they now manage at least $31.5 billion in assets, the Post reports. And because Wyoming allows trusts to be controlled by one person, many of them remain anonymous. Owners can even open second companies within their trusts, further obfuscating their identity and any transactions they make.
“Wyoming is advertising itself as the new onshore offshore [financial center] — it’s going to get the clientele,” University of Richmond law professor Allison Tait told the Post. “It’s like a wrapped gift inside a wrapped gift. The more wrapping you put on, the harder it is to figure out if there has been tax evasion or avoidance or even financial crime.”
There is no evidence in the Pandora Papers, the documents that exposed this information, that the trusts in Wyoming “sheltered criminal proceeds,” the Post reports.
Read the full report, including the history of Wyoming’s trust industry and how we got here, in the Washington Post.