Incorporation Transparency

Letter from Attorneys General to the House Financial Services Committee to Improve Corporate Transparency

Dear Chairman Hensarling and Ranking Member Waters:

Thank you for your diligent work crafting legislation to improve corporate transparency by requiring companies to disclose the identities of individuals who control and profit from the company at the time of its incorporation. We write to express our support for this change, which would prevent these individuals from using anonymous shell companies to evade accountability,
and to convey the importance of making this information available to state and local enforcement.

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The Miami Herald: Crackdown on dirty money shook Miami real estate. Now, Rubio wants to take it national

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.

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AEI: It’s long past time for Congress and the Treasury to step up their global anti-corruption efforts

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.

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Just the FACTs: July 18, 2018

After 2 years of bipartisan negotiations, without warning or fanfare, the leadership of the U.S. House Financial Services Committee stripped beneficial ownership provisions out of a bipartisan anti-money laundering bill and planned a Committee vote.

A decision was made to drop beneficial ownership because it was thought to be controversial and a stripped down bill would “pass easily.” However, as FACT’s executive director describes in this op-ed in the American Banker, that was simply not the case.

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McClatchy DC: New Panama Papers leak shows U.S. oddly inactive

A new leak of data from the embattled law firm Mossack Fonseca shows it scrambling to contain the crisis triggered by the April 2016 leak of the Panama Papers and attempting to field demands for information from authorities in numerous countries — with the glaring exception of the United States.

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Countering Transnational Kleptocracy: How Democracies can lead the way

In the past few years, journalists and civil society activists have begun documenting globalized corruption on an unprecedented scale, from the Panama and Paradise Papers leaks and collaborative initiatives like the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project to the countless individuals and organizations working at great personal risk in regions of marginal interest to mainstream international audiences. A special mention should be made of Forbidden Stories, a sadly necessary project which enables journalists to “swarm” the investigations of slain colleagues, ensuring that their killers’ attempt to silence them backfires spectacularly.

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Legislative Sausage-Making and Anonymous Shell Companies

Unfortunately, the United States is the easiest place in the world to set up an anonymous shell company. It can be done online in a few minutes and for minimal cost, with no requirement that those who actually own or control the company disclose their ownership. Shell companies can also be registered to someone who provides his or her identity for a fee, known as a nominee, who can be a lawyer, accountant, another person connected to the real owner, or even another company or trust. As a former Treasury special agent, I can attest that the establishment of multiple “layers” where the true beneficiary is not known makes it extremely difficult to follow the criminal money trail.

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