Press release | Sept. 26, 2019

New Senate bill seeks to end anonymously-owned companies

Washington, D.C.– Today, a bipartisan group of Senators on the US Senate Banking Committee has introduced a major bill that would tackle corruption and crime by ending the use of anonymously-owned companies in the US.

Global Witness welcomes 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 U.S. 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 U.S.’s efforts to combat money laundering,” said Alexandria Robins, anti-money laundering policy officer at Global Witness. 

The sponsors of the ILLICIT CASH Act are U.S. Sens. 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 Brown 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.”



Notes to editor:

  • Click here to read a 1-page summary of the ILLICIT CASH Act.
  • Click here to read a section-by-section summary of the ILLICIT CASH Act.
  • Click here to read the full legislative text of the ILLICIT CASH Act.
  • Click here for a list of individuals and organizations endorsing beneficial ownership transparency.

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