Today’s hearing on Corporate Transparency in the House Financial Services Committee marks the first time this new Congress will discuss the role that anonymous companies play in facilitating money laundering, crime and corruption around the world. But it’s certainly not the first Congress has heard of this. Congress held six hearings last year on the matter, and the message from each hearing was the same: if Congress is serious about tackling financial crime, passing legislation to end anonymous companies and requiring companies to reveal their true owners needs to be their first priority.
2017 provided many examples of how anonymous companies have served as getaway cars for criminal actors – from the hundreds of millions of dollars allegedly laundered through Dankse Bank and other European Banks by shadowy clients in Russia and Eastern Europe, to the shell companies used to fuel the opioid epidemic ravaging small towns in the US, to the shell companies used by Russian actors implicated in election interference by Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation, and many more.
Last year legislation to end anonymous companies made real progress in Congress, but the political will to advance this critical reform fell short of what was needed to pass a bill. We don’t expect the call to action from this hearing today to be any different. The question is, will Congress finally take action to heed that call?
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Paper companies are the getaway cars for the world’s criminal and corrupt – we must take away the keys.