New Senate bill seeks to end anonymously-owned companies

By agency reporter
September 29, 2019

On 26 September 2019, a bipartisan group of Senators on the US Senate Banking Committee introduced a major bill that would tackle corruption and crime by ending the use of anonymously-owned companies in the US.

Global Witness has welcomed these Senators’ efforts to shine a light on anonymous companies, which are regularly used by individuals in the US and around the world who seek to hide their ill-gotten gains and avoid accountability for their misdeeds. 

The Improving Laundering Laws and Increasing Comprehensive Information Tracking of Criminal Activity in Shell Holdings (ILLICIT CASH) Act (S.2563) would, for the first time, require companies formed in the US to disclose their true owners to the U.S. Department of Treasury, keep that information up to date and make it accessible upon request to law enforcement and other authorities.

“We are pleased to see these Senators take this critical step towards addressing the long-time scourge of anonymous shell corporations, which allow corrupt and criminal activity to flourish. Global Witness has long called for disclosure of beneficial ownership information of companies formed in the US and around the world. Although there are some provisions we would like to see strengthened, the ILLICIT CASH Act would help address this major gap in the US’ efforts to combat money laundering”, said Alexandria Robins, anti-money laundering policy officer at Global Witness. 

The sponsors of the ILLICIT CASH Act are US Senators Tom Cotton (R-AR), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Mark R. Warner (D-VA), Doug Jones (D-AL), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), John Kennedy (R-LA), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV).

The introduction of this bill mirrors related efforts in the House, where a similar bill tackling beneficial ownership has recently advanced. Just last June, the House Financial Services Committee passed similar legislation on beneficial ownership in a 43 – 16 vote.

“We look forward to working with these Senators, Banking Committee Chair Crapo and Ranking Member Brow to refine and further strengthen this bill as it advances through the Committee, and create a new powerful tool to combat illicit finance and corruption across the globe”, said Robins.

“As bipartisan efforts in both the Senate and the House attempt to tackle the financing of criminal enterprises, Congress has the opportunity to send a strong signal to those seeking a haven for their illicit deeds: Not here.”

* Global Witness https://www.globalwitness.org/en-gb/

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