Maintaining Anonymity with your Wyoming LLC
Wyoming law provides some opportunities for anonymity when running a company. However, this anonymity is not absolute as some would suggest. You can keep your information private from the general public by creating a Wyoming LLC. However, there are opportunities for the government to obtain that information. Additionally, your private information could be revealed if your LLC is sued.
Government Actions to Remove Anonymity
Under Wyoming law, the registered agent of the company is compelled to obtain a list of the entity's directors, officers, limited liability company managers, managing partners, trustees or persons serving in a similar capacity. The registered agent is also obligated to obtain the name, physical address and business telephone number of a natural person who is authorized to receive communications from the registered agent. If the company comes under investigation, the registered agent will give that information directly over to the Wyoming state government. Additionally, various federal agencies have been known to subpoena registered agents for that same confidential information during the course of investigation.
Losing Anonymity in lawsuits
If a Wyoming LLC is sued, then the confidential information may be revealed. This is because in a court proceeding, parties to the action are allowed to demand and obtain details about the LLC. This can result in the revelation of who actually owns the LLC or the identity of the anonymous members.
Will a Nominee Service Maintain Anonymity?
Many registered agents offer nominee services. In the context of LLC anonymity, a nominee is simply a "straw man" that is used to sign for the LLC and conceal the actual ownership or members of the LLC. Technically, a nominee is someone who holds bare legal title to property. This is very common with title to residential real estate. For example, the lender will have a property right in a mortgaged house, but the lender will not show up on the property records. Instead, the property will be held in the name of MERS, which is a company that holds the legal title as a nominee so that lenders can readily transfer their interest to other entities.
The nominee concept has been applied by some registered agents to the LLC ownership context. The registered agent will offer a nominee service for the owner or member of the LLC. The registered agent will have a person whose name will show up in any records associated with the LLC, but that person will not really be running the company. They are only listed to comply with various regulatory or legal requirements.
The nominee can maintain anonymity to a point. However, if the LLC is sued, the details about the nominee and the actual owner or members of the LLC may be uncovered by a diligent and determined litigating attorney.