Op-ed: Follow the money of opioid trafficking

The president will now declare what many of us experience first hand: The opioid epidemic is a national emergency.

Frankly, with as many as 59,000 deaths in 2016, there doesn’t seem to be any other possible description.

So many dedicated people in cities and towns, faith communities and schools, families and hospitals are fighting to save lives and help people escape addiction.

But there are also a lot of people working to keep illegal opioids on the streets.

With 2.6 million opioid addicts in the United States, the scale of drug-running operations is immense, as are the profits. It’s not a mystery why the cartels build these operations; they do it for the money, and there is a lot of money to be had.


Strip the World’s Worst Actors of a Key Financial Tool

Anonymous shell companies are the vehicle of choice for a wide variety of bad actors. Drug cartels and human trafficking operations have long understood the benefits of corporate secrecy to launder money. Terror groups have learned these lessons, and today illicit financing and evading sanctions are as much a part of their strategy as any bombing or attack. Corrupt leaders in nations around the world steal public funds to prop up their regimes, undermine democratic institutions and ideals, and create internal and regional instability.


Op-ed: How an obscure business law facilitates human trafficking in massage parlors

Someone looking to comparison shop for commercial sex at one of Utah’s 50 or so illicit massage parlors can visit an online review board and get graphic descriptions of experiences with individual women in these locations.

Meanwhile, the privacy of the people who actually own the businesses where these acts take place is scrupulously protected nationwide by U.S. law. There is a very real and tragic cost to this irony. Research shows the majority of these women are likely victims of human trafficking. Corporate secrecy makes prosecuting the traffickers and helping the women find freedom extremely difficult.


Crack Down on U.K.’s Offshore Territories Increases Pressure on U.S. to End Anonymous Companies

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Lawmakers in the United Kingdom voted Tuesday to require their offshore territories to establish systems by 2020 mandating companies to disclose their true owners at the time of formation.  The new rules, which will bring transparency to companies formed in notorious secrecy jurisdictions such as the Cayman Islands, Bermuda, and the British Virgin Islands, were welcomed by the Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency (FACT) Coalition.


Reuters: Tax activists slam U.S. reporting exemption for defense firms

Tax activists this week criticized a U.S. government move to exempt large defense contractors from a financial disclosure rule meant to fight international tax dodging, saying the need for a national security exemption was unproven.

The Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency (FACT) Coalition’s criticism came after the U.S. Treasury and Internal Revenue Service sided in late March with defense contractors that had asked the agencies for the exemption.


Testimony to House Financial Services Committee on Implementation of FinCEN’s CDD Rule

Gary Kalman, the executive director of the Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency (FACT) Coalition, testified in front of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit on Friday, April 27, 2018 at a hearing regarding the implementation of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network’s (FinCEN) rule on Customer Due Diligence Requirements for Financial Institutions.


Testimony of Dalia F. Martinez, Executive Vice President of Operations International Bank of Commerce before the Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit, April 27, 2018

Chairmen Leutkemeyer and Pearce, Ranking Members Clay and Perimutter and members of the subcommittee, I am honored to have this opportunity to present testimony today regarding FinCEN’s Customer Due Diligence Rule. I am Dalia F. Martinez, Executive Vice President and Corporate Bank Secrecy Act Officer for International Bank of Commerce. IBC Bank–Laredo is a member of International Bancshares Corporation (NASDAQ: IBOC), a $12.2 billion multi-bank financial holding company headquartered in Laredo, Texas, with 192 branches and more than 294 ATMs serving 90 communities in Texas and Oklahoma. I am speaking to you today representing the Mid-size Bank Coalition of America, the voice of 88 community banks with headquarters in 34 States. MBCA banks are primarily between $10 billion and $50 billion in assets with more than 10,000 branches in all 50 states, with deposits of $1.2 trillion. MBCA banks represent, service, and support millions of customers.


Countering a Kleptocratic Kremlin

With every passing week we have new evidence of the threat that Vladimir Putin’s kleptocracy poses to our democracy, our national security, and the entire liberal world order. Putin’s regime—something akin to an organized crime ring masquerading as a state—has looted the wealth of Russia, subjugated its people, attacked neighboring former republics of the USSR, annexed Crimea, and hacked the electoral process in the United States and other Western democracies.


Just the FACTs: April 19, 2018

In January, we were optimistic that this would be the year anonymous companies would end.  Since then, the momentum for disclosure has only grown. Legal scholars and international affairs experts have recently called for action, a recent poll showed overwhelming support from small businesses, and a report from Fair Share reminded us that anonymous companies are continuing to fuel the opioid epidemic.  Between these and a recent investigation by Reuters that found Russians are using a web of anonymous companies to skirt U.S. sanctions and boost the government of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, and the Hezbollah militia, the arguments for secrecy are becoming more and more invalid.