Join the Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency (FACT) Coalition on May 17th for the U.S. launch of the Financial Secrecy Index, a flagship research initiative of the Tax Justice Network. The Financial Secrecy Index ranks countries around the world based on “how intensely the country’s financial and legal system allows individuals to hide and launder money extracted from around the world.”
The Kremlin’s continued, barbaric invasion of Ukraine has shone a light on the paramount importance of providing support for sanctions enforcement and closing the blindspots to corrupt and illicit flows in our financial system. Underfunding and understaffing threaten to take the bite out of sanctions and give Putin cover from the West’s best financial tools to counter Russia’s illegal aggression.
Last week, the UK Parliament passed long-promised reform to provide a window into the opaque British real estate market. This reform – desperately needed following countless exposés about financial abuses in the UK real estate sector, including recent revelations in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – will have critical implications for deterring and investigating economic crime and sanctions evasion. As the U.S. works with other countries to pursue multilateral sanctions against Russia, it must follow the UK and expeditiously advance its own rules to improve transparency in the U.S. real estate sector.
The Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency (FACT) Coalition is calling on the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to address the undisclosed presence of possible illicit financial flows in private investment markets. Without further action from the SEC, these flows may enrich and embolden potential adversaries, such as Putin’s regime, and eventually destabilize U.S. and global financial markets. Meanwhile, the failure to identify these flows undermines current sanctions against Russian oligarchs, and may jeopardize future tools that the U.S. might wield against aggressive governments.
Reforms advocated for by FACT, including those pertaining to beneficial ownership of anonymous shell entities, removing opacity from the U.S. real estate, private investment, and other luxury goods markets, and promoting greater tax transparency can bring the economic weight of new sanctions to bear. The U.S. must work expediently with its allies to permanently close financial gateways for Russia’s political elite to hide and grow their illicit wealth.
While the White House considers and implements immediate actions to aid Ukraine, it must also pursue structural U.S. anti-money laundering reforms to increase the effectiveness of targeted U.S. sanctions and to end the weaponization of U.S. legal and financial systems against democratic and open societies.