SOMETIMES shell companies are called ghost firms. Such businesses rarely come out of the shadows they haunt, rarely reveal their true owners or real accounts. But, unlike, real spectres they can at least be killed. Or so we thought.

Now there is a new horror: zombie SLPs. For a decade or more SLPs – Scottish limited partnerships – have been a ghost firm of choice for organised criminals, money-launderers and tax evaders around the world.

Today The Herald reveals how one – New Assets Union – was used as a core vehicle for an alleged pyramid scam in Belarus. That SLP is now dead, dissolved last year just weeks before, it would have to declare a person of significant control, an owner. Will it stay dead? Probably, but not necessarily. That is because SLPs can be revived. They are not just ghost firms. They are revenants.

More than a year ago The Herald revealed an SLP was still trading – providing armed guards close to a war zone – after it was officially dissolved.

But there are also more official zombie SLPs, ones which un-dissolve themselves, with the same corporate registration and little trouble.

Take Mainhold Products. This SLP, registered at the same Edinburgh address as hundreds of other similar entities, was dissolved in 2015. Its only potential digital footprint: a firm with the same name appears to have done business with a chain of Russian pharmacies.

Then, just this month, it came back from the dead. On whose authority? Mainhold Products’ general partner simply filed a new address, in Glasgow’s Byres Road, and a new, unspecified term for the partnership to exist.

The general partner is called Inhold Ltd. It does not say where it is incorporated. The three signatures on the incorporation, dissolution and reinstatement filings are nothing like each other. Its initial registrant is a nominee based in Latvia who has signed paperwork for numerous entities about whose activities he has declared he knows nothing. The SLP has declared an owner: an Uzbek citizen.

There is no suggestion or evidence of wrongdoing by Mainhold. But the SLP should get UK authorities thinking. There is a huge legacy of dissolved SLPs. How are we going to keep track of whether they are living or dead?