FACT Policy Director testified before Alaska’s legislature on the harmful impact of the “secrecy rat-race” between states and how Alaska could help to lead the way to transparency.
FACT Government Affairs Director Erica Hanichak spoke before the Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee in a hearing on the Pandora Papers. In her oral testimony, she stressed that Congress must fulfill its role in denying financial safe haven to tax evaders, drug traffickers, human rights abusers, kleptocrats, terror financiers, and sanctions dodgers.
Thirty years after the end of the Cold War, the world is once again polarized between two competing visions for how to organize society. On one side are countries such as the United States, which are founded on respect for the inviolable rights of the individual and governed by rule of law. On the other side are countries where state power is concentrated in the hands of a single person or clique, accountable only to itself and oiled by corruption.
Alarmingly, while Washington has grown ambivalent in recent years about the extent to which America should encourage the spread of democracy and human rights abroad, authoritarian regimes have become increasingly aggressive and creative in attempting to export their own values against the United States and its allies. Russian President Vladimir Putin and other authoritarian rulers have worked assiduously to weaponize corruption as an instrument of foreign policy, using money in opaque and illicit ways to gain influence over other countries, subvert the rule of law and otherwise remake foreign governments in their own kleptocratic image.
In this respect, the fight against corruption is more than a legal and moral issue; it has become a strategic one — and a battleground in a great power competition.
Yet corruption is not only one of the most potent weapons wielded by America’s authoritarian rivals, it is also, in many cases, what sustains these regimes in power and is their Achilles’ heel.
In a move with significant implications for the U.S. housing market, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio is seeking to take a Treasury Department crackdown on dirty money in luxury real estate and expand it from a few high-priced enclaves to the entire nation.
Rubio says his proposal is an attempt to root out criminals who use illicit funds and anonymous shell companies to buy homes — a form of money laundering that hides the cash’s tainted origin from law enforcement and banks. The widespread practice enables terrorism, sex trafficking, corruption, and drug dealing by providing an outlet for dirty cash, according to transparency advocates.
It is time for Congress to start fighting for something larger than its component pieces. New beneficial ownership legislation, and new anti-corruption laws in general, should be framed as a pillar of a grand struggle to restore American global leadership, expand and spread American prosperity, and create space for new international opportunities with countries that want to play by the rules.
Giegold is a member of a parliamentary delegation which has just concluded a fact finding trip to Washington on what the US is doing to combat financial crime.
The delegation from the economic and monetary affairs committee was in Washington and New York to meet representatives from the US Treasury, the Institute of International Bankers (IIB) and the Federal Reserve Board (FRB).