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The Daily

29 Harley Street in London the Home of 2,159 Companies

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Apr 19, 2016
liesSpace must be tight at London's 29 Harley Street, as The Guardian has reported it is registered as the address of 2,159 different companies. But maybe not, because the building doesn't house legions of office workers packed in like batter hens. Instead, there's a mailbox and a phone. That's it. This is because the companies registered at this address are mainly shell corporations that have been used to perpetuate things such as money laundering, tax evasion, and fraud, according to The Guardian.

The only company that actually operates out of there is called Formations House, which sets up the thousands of companies that are technically located in the building. Untangling who actually owns these corporations is nearly impossible, said The Guardian, as the owners are often listed as other companies located at the same address. While there are also companies there that are owned by real people, the owner is often times someone who was paid by the real beneficiaries to play that role; one man, according to The Guardian, boasts ownership of more than 1,000 companies.

The ease with which shell corporations can be formed is a result of reforms in 2001 that led to the rise of companies whose sole purpose is to set up other companies. The Guardian says there are very few checks, as evidenced by the reporter being able to set up a company of his own in nine minutes.