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Legislative Efforts to Promote Beneficial Ownership Transparency

The Coalition for Integrity is advocating for an end to anonymous companies because they allow corruption to flourish and permit unknown persons to influence elections at all levels of government.  There are currently six bills in Congress to increase beneficial ownership transparency in different ways.  Support these efforts by writing to members of Congress urging them to pass one or more of these proposals. We’ve drafted a template for you below.

Here’s why we are asking you to act NOW.

The use of anonymous companies has a profound effect on ordinary lives in the United States.

  • Inflated House Prices: Purchases of apartments and houses in Manhattan and Miami through anonymous companies, for example, have pushed real estate prices up. And almost every story on money laundering and real estate seems to feature anonymous companies.
  • Facilitating Drug Trafficking: A 2016 report, Anonymity Overdose, by Fair Share charted the connection between the opioid epidemic and the problem of anonymous shell companies.  It pointed to 10 case studies of how anonymous companies were used as money laundering instruments or front operations for opioid traffickers.  Similarly, a report on international money laundering demonstrated that anonymous companies make it more difficult for law enforcement to “follow the money” in drug trafficking cases.
  • National Security Risks: News stories point to how Moscow interfered in Central and Eastern European countries by using anonymous companies to take over important sections of the economy. Anonymous companies enable North Korea to dodge sanctions. Anonymous companies can also be used to hide security risks, such as ultimate ownership of federal high security properties.  The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, which represents more than 25,000 federal law enforcement officers from over 65 different agencies, has welcomed Congressional efforts to address the problem that anonymous U.S. corporations significantly hamper efforts to fight terrorism and other serious crimes. Read our blog here.
  • Fraud and Abuse: Anonymous companies have been used to steal money from the elderly and other citizens in the U.S. Companies contracting with the federal government have also used anonymous companies to defraud the government.  In 2014, for example, a federal defense contractor, Supreme Foodservice, pleaded guilty to defrauding the government by creating a fake company to act as a middle man and mark up the price of food and drinks sold to the military.
  • Election Financing: The 2016 campaign was the most expensive on record and there are reports that anonymous companies funneled money into Super PACs and independent social welfare organizations, which then spent millions of dollars on issue advertising. This makes it difficult to discern the identities of the players seeking to influence the elections. In previous elections, anonymous companies have been used to disguise campaign contributions.

Legislative Proposals

House bill, H.R. 2513 – The Corporate Transparency Act of 2019 – was introduced by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) with co-sponsors Congressman Peter King (R-NY) and Congressman Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) on May 3, 2019. It would require corporations and limited liability companies in the United States to disclose their beneficial owners to FinCEN at the time of incorporation. On June 11, it was voted out of the House Financial Services Committee and ordered to the House with a record vote of 43 ayes and 16 nays (43-16). This will mark the furthest point any corporate transparency bill has ever made it through the legislative process.

Similar legislation in the Senate – The Improving Laundering Laws and Increasing Comprehensive Information Tracking of Criminal Activity in Shell Holdings (ILLICIT CASH) Act – was introduced by Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) on June 12, 2019. The bill is co-sponsored by Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR), Senator Doug Jones (D-AL), and Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD).

What Can You Do?

Tweet at and write to your Representatives and Senators calling for them to pass key legislation.

Sample Tweet:

@MikeCrapo Pass incorporation transparency legislation to end corporate anonymity.
@RepMaxineWaters Support the Corporate Transparency Act of 2019.

Email your legislators!

Please write to your congressman/woman (Find your Senators and Representatives) to urge passage of bipartisan legislation recently reintroduced to address the problem of corporate anonymity.

Sample Email:

Copy and paste the message below and email it to your representative or to the key individuals named above.

Anonymous companies are used for dirty money transactions and schemes that support drug traffickers and terrorists, defraud government agencies and cheat US citizens, and undermine U.S. institutions, particularly the electoral process. Congress should require transparency now.

We urge you to pass bills now pending to require the collection, maintenance and updating of beneficial ownership information on legal entities for law enforcement purposes.

Coalition for Integrity’s Shruti Shah on CNN explaining if the Panama Papers will aid the global fight against Corruption.

PBS Newshour with Gwen Ifill: Coalition for Integrity’s Shruti Shah discusses the implications of the Panama Papers scandal and calls for reforms in the U.S.