Senators Introduce Bipartisan Bill as Leak of Odebrecht’s “Bribery Division” Underscores Need to End Anonymous Companies

Wyden, Rubio, and Whitehouse’s “Corporate Transparency Act” — Companion to Maloney and King’s H.R.2513 — Would End Incorporation of Anonymous Companies in the U.S.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Bipartisan momentum to end the incorporation of anonymous companies in the United States escalated on Wednesday following the publication of an international exposé on the scandal-plagued Odebrecht’s “Bribery Division,” as Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced legislation that would require companies to disclose their true owner(s) when they incorporate and keep their ownership information up to-do-date.

Published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in collaboration with the Miami Herald, the “Bribery Division” articles reveal how anonymous companies formed in the U.S. were allegedly used to facilitate corruption in Venezuela and other parts of Latin America — sometimes laundering the money into South Florida and Manhattan.

Senator Wyden, Rubio, and Whitehouse’s Corporate Transparency Act of 2019 (S.1978) is the Senate companion to a bipartisan House bill (H.R.2513), sponsored by Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Peter King (R-NY), which advanced out of the House Committee on Financial Services earlier this month with a strong, 43–16 bipartisan vote of support.  The Wyden-Rubio bill was welcomed by the Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency Coalition (FACT Coalition), a non-partisan alliance of more than 100 state, national, and international organizations promoting policies to combat the harmful impacts of corrupt financial practices.

Momentum has been building for transparency in the Senate recently as well, with two Senate hearings held on the matter in the past week, a bipartisan bill from Senators Whitehouse and Charles Grassley (R-IA) introduced last Tuesday, and a bipartisan discussion draft of legislation unveiled by Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Doug Jones (D-AL), and Mike Rounds (R-SD) the week before.

Clark Gascoigne, the deputy director of the FACT Coalition, issued the following statement:

“Today’s exposé into Odebrecht’s allegedly corrupt practices adds to the mountain of evidence pointing to anonymous companies as the primary vehicle for laundering the proceeds of grand corruption, crime, and various other financial misdeeds — with U.S. entities playing an integral role.  Anonymous companies have been used for a wide range of dangerous and illicit activities, including as fronts for rogue countries to evade sanctions, to cloak arms dealers shipping weapons into conflict zones, to fuel the opioid crisis across the country, to engage in human trafficking, to rip off Medicare, and to undermine the safety of our troops through the sale of faulty equipment.  As evidence about the harms of anonymous companies builds, so too does the bipartisan momentum to finally put an end to the incorporation of anonymous companies in the United States.  On behalf of the FACT Coalition and our members, I applaud Senators Wyden, Rubio, and Whitehouse for their continued leadership in advancing policy to safeguard our communities and defend our national security.”

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Journalist Contact:

Clark Gascoigne
Deputy Director, The FACT Coalition
+1 202 827-6401
cgascoigne@nullthefactcoalition.org