Main Street Alliance Sends Letter in Support of the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 (S.Amdt.2198 to S.4049)

Main Street Alliance has sent a letter of support to Senate leadership for the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 (S.Amdt.2198 to S.4049). The bill would help protect small businesses from exploitation by anonymous shell companies. The full letter can be read below or downloaded here.

Download Letter as a PDF

June 26, 2020

RE: Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020, Amendment to the National Defense  Authorization Act of 2021 

Dear Majority Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Schumer,  

The Main Street Alliance is a national network of small businesses who engage on  important public policy issues that work for business owners, their employees, and  the communities they serve. We represent 30,000 small business owners across  the country and write to urge you to support the “Anti-Money Laundering Act of  2020” as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. This bill, which  would help curb tax evasion, corruption, and fraud facilitated by anonymous shell  companies, is central to this mission. 

The “Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020” would require American companies to  disclose the identity of the actual people who own or control them (often called the  “beneficial owners”). This simple act is critically important to those of us who have  seen or experienced the harm resulting from anonymous shell companies.  Anonymously-owned companies or those whose owners are hidden, fuel  corruption, and corruption distorts markets. Shell companies win contracts on the  basis of false promises, rather than legitimate competitive advantage.  Consider  the following: 

  • One couple created a string of anonymously owned companies and won  U.S. government contracts by submitting extremely low bids. They then  subcontracted to other businesses for the actual goods and services. The  couple received the fees from the government but never paid the  subcontractors. They shut down their anonymous company and set up new  ones, frustrating law enforcement investigations and creating new  opportunities to repeat the scam.[1]
  • A U.S defense contractor used his position to secure more than $1.1 million  worth of contracts for a Tennessee-based company that he secretly owned,  but his wife ran under her maiden name to hide their conflict of interest.[2]
  • Anonymous companies are used by patent trolls to file lawsuits, costing the  companies they target $80 billion per year in lost profits and legal costs.   These lawsuits serve to squash innovation and harm fragile start-ups.[3]

Sadly, these are just a few of the countless examples of the harm caused by  anonymous companies and the consequences for small business. Whether losing  out on an initial contract or finding themselves on the fraudulent end of a  commercial transaction, small businesses cannot be expected to compete with the  ever-changing scams perpetrated by the owners of anonymous companies. 

Requiring secretive businesses to come out from the shadows will benefit small  businesses in several ways. It will reduce conflicts of interest and cronyism in  contracting, as well as curb false billing of contractors and fraudulent certification  for small, disadvantaged, veteran, or disability-owned businesses. Furthermore,  ownership information will help prevent those who previously defrauded taxpayers  from establishing a new sham operation and winning new contracts. And speaking  for those businesses who honestly pay their taxes, it will make it harder for bad  corporate actors to gain advantage through tax evasion. 

In short, transparency levels the playing field so that businesses will engage in  open competition based on product or service quality, organizational efficiencies,  and talent. That is a market in which we can compete. 

Congress should quickly pass the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 to end the  corrupt practices associated with anonymous companies and support a healthier  environment for small business. 
Amanda Ballantyne, 
Executive Director, Main Street Alliance 


[1] FBI, Conspirator Sentenced to Prison in $2.3 Million Government Contract Fraud  Scheme, ​​;  US DOJ Press Release, Clinton Woman Pleads Guilty In $2.3  Million Government Contract Fraud Scheme

[2] United States Attorney’s Office Eastern District of Virginia, Former employee of defense contractor and  wife sentenced for conspiring to obtain millions in fraudulent scheme involving vehicle parts for Afghan  National Army, February 14, 2014, available  at

[3] James Bessen, Jennifer Ford, & Michael J. Meurer, “The Private and Social Costs of Patent Trolls,”  Regulation 26, 2012.