National Security Study Memorandum Pledges U.S. Leadership to Bring Transparency to U.S. and Global Financial Systems
WASHINGTON, DC – The Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency (FACT) Coalition today warmly welcomed the Biden Administration’s move establishing combatting corruption at home and abroad as a core U.S. national security interest. The National Security Study Memorandum, and President Biden’s directive to the National Security Advisor to develop a national strategy to combat corruption, represents a significant and timely elevation of the fight against corruption and financial secrecy.
“Corruption is an existential threat to free and democratic societies everywhere must be addressed to support the rule of law and the protection of human rights, both in the U.S. and around the world,” said Ian Gary, executive director of the FACT Coalition. “Coming on the heels of yesterday’s announcement of the bipartisan congressional Caucus Against Foreign Corruption and Kleptocracy, the stars are aligned to see real progress in combating this global scourge. With this week’s announcements, authoritarians, oligarchs, their cronies and enablers have now been put on notice.”
The National Security Study Memorandum represents a “whole of government” approach to addressing corruption and requires an inter-agency review to develop a report for the president within 200 days. Among other priorities, the strategy, when implemented, would increase the ability of the U.S. to “combat all forms of illicit finance in the United States and international financial systems, including by robustly implementing Federal law requiring United States companies to report their beneficial owner or owners to the Department of the Treasury.”
Since its founding in 2011, the FACT Coalition, comprised of more than 100 civil society organizations, has campaigned for the U.S. government to pull back the veil on anonymous corporate ownership and to address the role the U.S. plays in facilitating corruption and illicit financial flows. FACT was instrumental in promoting the development and passage of the Corporate Transparency Act, the new law requiring beneficial ownership disclosure to eliminate the use of anonymous shell companies by corrupt and criminal actors.
To deliver on the goals outlined in today’s executive statement, the U.S. Congress should act on key legislative proposals that would advance the fight against corruption, including the recently introduced CROOK (Countering Russian and Other Overseas Kleptocracy) Act. This bipartisan legislation, supported by the FACT Coalition, would establish a global anti-corruption action fund at the State Department, dedicated to shoring up the rule of law abroad and combating global corruption. The legislation would fund programs supporting local activists, journalists, and other watchdogs by drawing on multi-million-dollar fines levied under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) against U.S. and foreign companies caught bribing foreign officials.
“The memorandum released today rightly prioritizes supporting civil society, media, and other oversight and accountability actors who are both vital to identifying corruption and advocating for reforms but also the most vulnerable to attacks from authoritarian leaders and corrupt actors,” Gary said. “The announcement today is an important signal about the seriousness of global corruption. We look forward to a robust and coherent strategy backed by the money and resources commensurate to the scale of this problem.”
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