The shell games continue

August 15, 2011

Laurence Fletcher and a team of reporters from Canberra to the small town of Apache Junction in Arizona have a special report today that is the latest in our series “Shell Games,” exploring the extent and impact of corporate secrecy in the United States and beyond.

The bonds that turned to dust” tracks the fate of $500 million of highly illiquid paper purportedly issued by a company in a trailer-park suburb of Phoenix, on behalf of a small Australian commodities firm — and backed by the proceeds from $10 billion of diesel from the tiny autonomous Russian republic of Bashkortostan.

The bonds proved to be impossible to sell, and a Cayman Island-based fund, DD Growth Premium, that bought them went into liquidation in the spring of 2009. The fund’s implosion left behind a band of irate investors and an enduring riddle as to what exactly happened.

Read the story in multimedia PDF format here:

We kicked off the series at the end of June with “A little house of secrets on the Great Plains.” The story focused on a house in Cheyenne, Wyoming, that is home to more than 2,000 companies. The state is already cracking down, as we reported last week.

The second story “China’s shortcut to Wall Street” examined how shell companies have been used to bring Chinese companies to the U.S. market.

Watch this space for more in the series.

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