Global Financial Integrity (GFI) is encouraging lawmakers in Washington to push through legislation that requires US companies to disclose their beneficial owners.

The Washington-based non-profit research and lobbying firm focused on illicit fund flows (IFFs) highlights that the US has one of the world’s lightest requirements for the disclosure of beneficial owners and cites several cases where IFFs have been channeled through US companies.

Bipartisan proposal

“Establishing company ownership disclosure in the United States would be a vital tool to help law enforcement combat terrorism, criminal activity, and other threats, while imposing little undue burden on American businesses and their owners,” GFI says.

It added that it found it encouraging that a bipartisan proposal for the Corporate Transparency Act of 2019 in the House of Representatives has been introduced by Democrat Carolyn Maloney and Republican Peter King.

The bill requires US companies to disclose their beneficial owners to the US treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) when they incorporate, and keep their ownership information up-to-date.

Trade-based crime

Amongst trade-based criminality facilitated by anonymous front companies is illegal gold mining from Latin America tied to drug-traffickers, sex trafficking, and environmental devastation according to GFI. 

It says Miami has been the epicentre for a US$3.6 billion money laundering scheme centred on those illegal activities.