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.
This week, The Clearing House Association, a major trade association for U.S. commercial banks, endorsed legislation requiring the collection of information about the real owners of U.S. companies (S. 2489/H.R. 4450). The Clearing House Association is the oldest banking association in the U.S., and it advocates on behalf of the largest U.S. commercial banks, such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo and SunTrust, just to name a few.
Their letter states, “We believe the bill would assist public sector efforts to identify money laundering and terrorist financing through the disclosure of the beneficial owners of corporations. In addition, the legislation would bring the United States further in line with international AML/CFT expectations, such as the recommendations developed by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). We can see no justification for allowing corporations to shield their ownership.”
It’s no secret, secret shell companies are dangerous. A report by FACT member Global Witness in early July showed us how these companies are being used to defraud the federal government and put our armed forces at risk. This week, a new report from another FACT member, Fair Share Education Fund, exposed connections to shell companies and the opioid epidemic. The report, “Anonymity Overdose”, explains how ending the use of anonymous shell companies could make it significantly harder to keep drug profits hidden from law enforcement.
Likewise, shell companies are often used to launder illicit money through real estate. A geographic targeting order from the Treasury Department began collecting information on high risk purchases in two of the biggest U.S. housing markets back in March. According to an article in The New York Times, more than a quarter of the all-cash luxury home purchases made using shell companies in Manhattan and Miami were flagged as suspicious. The Treasury Department will now expand the program to other major housing markets across the country.
Letter from The Clearing House Endorses Bipartisan Incorporation Transparency and Law Enforcement Assistance Act
WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Monday, the Clearing House Association—representing the world’s largest commercial banks—sent a letter to Congressional lawmakers supporting strong measures to crack down on the abuse of anonymous companies. The group, which counts among its owners Bank of America, Citibank, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo, explicitly endorses the bipartisan Incorporation Transparency and Law Enforcement Assistance Act (H.R.4450, S.2489).