Interim Executive Director
Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency (FACT) Coalition
U.S. Launch of the 2020 Financial Secrecy Index
February 19, 2020
Dirksen Senate Office Building
As Prepared for Delivery
Good morning, and thank you for coming.
My name is Clark Gascoigne; I am currently the interim executive director of the FACT Coalition. FACT stands for “Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency,” and we are a non-partisan alliance of more than 100 state, national, and international organizations promoting policies to combat the harmful impacts of corrupt financial practices.
On behalf of the FACT Coalition and our co-hosts with the Tax Justice Network, I welcome you to the U.S. Launch of TJN’s 2020 Financial Secrecy Index.
Every other year for the past decade, the FACT Coalition has partnered with TJN to host the U.S. launch of their Index. Every time the Financial Secrecy Index has been published, the U.S. has ranked among the top ten largest secrecy jurisdictions.
The latest iteration — launched here today — places the U.S. not only in the top ten again, but ranks us as the 2nd largest provider of financial secrecy — behind only the Cayman Islands.
This is not a top ten list we want to be on.
As my friend, John Cassara, a former Treasury special agent, often explains: almost every crime is motivated by greed. It’s about the money. Curtailing those crimes — whether they are human trafficking, opioid trafficking, grand corruption, tax evasion, or even the illicit trade in counterfeit and pirated goods — requires ensuring that law enforcement has the tools they need to follow the money.
Financial secrecy can make it very difficult — if not impossible for law enforcement to follow that money, hold bad actors accountable, and keep our communities safe.
Fortunately, now — more so than at any previous launch of the FSI — there is reason for optimism that Congress may finally act — and that the days of abusing anonymous U.S. companies may be finally coming to an end.
In October, with backing from the White House, the House of Representatives passed bipartisan legislation — known as the Corporate Transparency Act — which, for the first time, would end the incorporation of anonymous companies in the U.S.
Similar bipartisan legislation, known as the ILLICIT CASH Act, is now being considered by the Senate Banking Committee, where Chairman Crapo and Ranking Member Brown have both indicated that corporate transparency is a priority for them.
After more than a decade of debate, 2020 should be the year that the U.S. finally enacts major transparency reforms to better protect our financial system from abuse.
With that, let me hand it over to Jack Blum with the Tax Justice Network, to give a brief presentation on the findings of the 2020 Financial Secrecy Index, before I invite our distinguished set of panelists to respond.