The revelation made just over a week after the election in Ecuador between Lasso – a right-wing banker – and left-wing candidate Andrs Arauz, political heir to ex-president Rafael Correa.
In the 2017 presidential election, the Washington-based Center for Economic and Political Research (CEPR) denounced the existence of shell companies in Florida linked to Lasso that had properties in Miami valued at more than $ 30 million.
In 2017, Ecuador approved a reform called the Tact Pact, to prevent public officials or candidates for elected positions by popular vote from having companies or accounts on tax breaks.
According to Ecuadorian law, Florida is included in the list of preferential tax regimes if the investments are in the form of limited liability companies.
“Although additional layers of anonymity have been introduced to conceal ownership, a review of Florida’s real estate and corporate records shows that Lasso-related shell companies have increased since 2017,” said CEPR.
The center noted that in 2020, most of the aforementioned shell companies underwent numerous changes, including decommissioning, dismissals, name changes, mergers and dissolutions.
“Many companies have changed their names within a week of their dissolution. All but four of Lasso’s associated companies have now merged into new entities. In total, we have identified 23 active companies registered in Florida,” said CEPR.
According to CEPR researcher Jake Johnston, “shell companies are a significant factor in explaining how the rich, the powerful and the corrupt can hide their money to avoid paying taxes”. Johnston said AFP that “Lasso must clearly explain what connection he has with these or any other front company outside Ecuador.”
“Voters in any country must be aware of the business, local or foreign interests of candidates for high office, and whether they use corporate anonymity or accounting gimmicks to avoid contributing a fair share to the country they seek to govern,” he concluded.
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