Press release | Nov. 29, 2017

Global Witness testifies in the U.S. House of Representatives on the need for stronger anti-money laundering laws

Today Global Witness testifies in the U.S. House of Representatives on the need to strengthen U.S. anti-money laundering laws to counter terrorism and illicit finance. Drug traffickers and terrorists use anonymously-owned companies to move cash through the U.S., enabling them to continue operating while slipping under the radar of law enforcement, warns Global Witness. 

The House Financial Services Subcommittee on Terrorism and Illicit Finance and Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit are holding a joint hearing – “Legislative Proposals to Counter Terrorism and Illicit Finance” – to discuss draft legislation that could make it harder to move and launder suspicious funds into and out of the U.S.

Stefanie Ostfeld, Deputy Head of Global Witness’ U.S. office, will be providing testimony to the subcommittees that will highlight the critical need to end the ability to set up anonymous companies in the U.S. because they have been used to facilitate corruption and criminal activity.

“The U.S. lags behind many countries that are taking steps to make company ownership more transparent. For example, all EU countries are in the process of setting up company ownership registries,” said Ostfeld. “As it stands, the law currently makes it far too easy for corrupt officials and other crooks to set up and hide behind the secrecy of anonymously-owned companies in the U.S.”

 “We’re very encouraged that the Committee is interested in advancing beneficial ownership transparency legislation,” said Ostfeld.

“However, we urgently need legislation that tackles this problem. The right information needs to be collected, made available to the stakeholders that need it, and kept up to date. The legislation proposed today needs to be further strengthened to ensure it meets these basic standards.”

This hearing comes at a time when there is burgeoning diverse and bipartisan support for ending anonymous companies in the U.S. Major financial institutions, national security experts, law enforcement organizations, anti-human trafficking groups and public interest organizations have all endorsed legislation that would require the disclosure of the real people who own American companies.

The hearing will begin at 2 p.m., ET today on Wednesday, November 29, 2017. It will be held in the Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2128.  A link to the webcast of the hearing will be available here



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