USA: House of Representatives passes landmark bipartisan bill to put an end to corruption & crime enabled by anonymous companies
On 22 October 2019, the US House of Representatives passed a landmark bipartisan bill, The Corporate Transparency Act, that would require companies to disclose their true, so-called ‘beneficial’ owners at the time the company is formed to the U.S. Treasury and keep such information up to date whenever it changes. Earlier in the day, the White House issued a positive Statement of Administrative Policy endorsing legislation to end the incorporation of anonymous companies in the U.S. The bill will now proceed to the US Senate where another bill focused on tackling corruption and crime by ending the use of anonymously-owned companies in the US has also been introduced by a bipartisan group of Senators.
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Commentary: Bipartisan & cross industry support for Corporate Transparency Act aimed at eliminating corruption
Author: Nelson Bunn, Gary Kalman & Greg Baer, Washington Examiner
"Congress can block money-laundering", 21 October 2019
Legislation pending in both Houses of Congress — H.R. 2513, the Corporate Transparency Act and S. 2563, the ILLICIT CASH Act — would effectively end all shell companies with anonymous ownership...[T]he FACT Coalition, Bank Policy Institute, and the National District Attorneys Association — have been joined by the law enforcement community, national security experts, and conservative think tanks in seeking a common-sense way to allow law enforcement and national security experts to protect this country. As the Fraternal Order of Police said in a Congressional letter, “This is a well-documented problem for our institutions and for law enforcement as we work together to shut down these criminal enterprises.” Some have argued that this information should not be provided to the broader public...[W]e all agree that it is difficult to imagine any valid reason why corporate owners would want to keep their ownership secret from law enforcement, or...from a bank that is required by law to determine who owns it.
Author: Global Witness
The Corporate Transparency Act (H.R. 2513) is the first bill of its kind to see a floor vote in Congress... The legislation marks an unprecedented step forward in global efforts to combat corruption and crime facilitated by companies with hidden owners and the U.S. financial system as well. This milestone comes on the heels of a positive Statement of Administrative Policy from the White House, as well as a comprehensive Senate bill introduced last month by a bipartisan group of Senators to the Banking Committee, which includes similar beneficial ownership disclosure requirements... “We have a real opportunity here to fill a major gap in our country’s anti-money laundering framework. We are eager to see the House advance this critical, cross-partisan effort to stand up against criminals, kleptocrats and fraudsters that use the U.S. as a haven for their dirty money,” said Alexandria Robins, a policy officer with Global Witness.
... [The] Act now moves on to the Senate alongside another important piece of legislation, the COUNTER Act (H.R.2514). The COUNTER Act would foster a wide range of additional reforms to the U.S. anti-money laundering measures used by financial institutions and law enforcement to detect and deter illicit finance and related crimes.
Author: Executive Office of the President
The Administration commends the bipartisan work undertaken to develop H.R. 2513, the Corporate Transparency Act of 2019. This legislation would require corporations and limited liability companies in the United States to disclose their beneficial owners, a measure that will help prevent malign actors from leveraging anonymity to exploit these entities for criminal gain. It would also assist law enforcement in detecting and preventing illicit activity such as terrorist financing and money laundering... For these reasons, the Administration believes this legislation represents important progress in strengthening national security, supporting law enforcement, and clarifying regulatory requirements.
Author: Clark Gascoigne, Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency (FACT) Coalition
A bipartisan group of eight U.S. senators on [the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs] introduced legislation [on 26 September] to update federal anti-money laundering laws and end the incorporation of anonymous companies in the U.S.... [T]he Improving Laundering Laws and Increasing Comprehensive Information Tracking of Criminal Activity in Shell Holdings... Act [and a similar version of the bill, titled the Corporate Transparency Act of 2019, from the U.S. House of Representatives] would require companies to disclose their true owners when they incorporate and keep their ownership information up-to-date. Gary Kalman, the executive director of the Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency (FACT) Coalition, [said]..."For years, rogue actors have been using anonymous companies formed in the U.S. to evade sanctions and finance terrorist networks. Human trafficking operations and drug cartels launder money through secret U.S. company structures, and corrupt foreign officials exploit the loopholes in our laws to hide the funds they pilfer from national treasuries. The ILLICIT CASH Act is a direct and effective response to the dangers and devastation that result from the lack of safeguards to protect our financial system from abuse...The current lack of information on company ownership is now widely recognized as the critical missing piece of information in tracking bad actors..."
Author: Global Witness
[A] bipartisan group of Senators on the US Senate Banking Committee has introduced a major bill that would tackle corruption and crime by ending the use of anonymously-owned companies in the US. Global Witness welcomes these Senators’ efforts to shine a light on anonymous companies, which are regularly used by individuals in the US and around the world who seek to hide their ill-gotten gains and avoid accountability for their misdeeds.
.. The Improving Laundering Laws and Increasing Comprehensive Information Tracking of Criminal Activity in Shell Holdings (ILLICIT CASH) Act (S.2563) would, for the first time, require companies formed in the U.S. to disclose their true owners to the U.S. Department of Treasury, keep that information up to date and make it accessible upon request to law enforcement and other authorities... The introduction of this bill mirrors related efforts in the House, where a similar bill tackling beneficial ownership has recently advanced.