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December 8, 2020 – Clark Gascoigne, senior policy advisor at the Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency (FACT) Coalition, joined Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), author of the Corporate Transparency Act, at a press conference on Monday, December 7, 2020, to applaud the bill’s inclusion in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, a must pass bill that is expected on the House floor this coming week.

The FACT Coalition led the campaign to pass the Corporate Transparency Act, bipartisan legislation that would end the incorporation of anonymous shell companies in the U.S.

Scroll down for the full video of the press conference

Remarks by

Clark Gascoigne
Senior Policy Advisor
The FACT Coalition

As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you, Congresswoman Maloney.  Due in large part to your leadership and tenacity, Congress is on the brink of enacting the most significant anti-money laundering and anti-corruption reform in a generation.

As the Congresswoman mentioned, my name is Clark Gascoigne, and I am a Senior Policy Advisor at the FACT Coalition, where I’ve been leading our work on ending anonymous companies.

FACT stands for “Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency” — we are a non-partisan alliance of more than 100 state, national, and international organizations in the United States promoting policies to combat the harmful impacts of corrupt financial practices.

The biggest vulnerability in our anti-money laundering regime is the incorporation of anonymous shell companies.  These opaque structures have a well-documented history of being used to undermine our national security, hide bad actors, and launder the proceeds for a wide variety of crimes — including sanctions evasion, terror financing, grand corruption, human trafficking, drug trafficking, tax evasion, you name it.

And the United States is particularly vulnerable on this front.

Researchers at UT-Austin and Brigham Young University conducted a study finding that the U.S was the easiest place for suspicious individuals to form an anonymous company to launder their proceeds with impunity.

Experts at the World Bank and United Nations took a look at 150 grand corruption cases over the past few decades and found that roughly three-quarters of them utilized anonymous companies to launder their illicit funds — with U.S. companies being the most common.

While we normally think of anonymous companies being an issue for states like Delaware, Nevada, and Wyoming — (in fact) in all fifty states — more personal information is needed to obtain a library card than to establish a company that can be used to facilitate money laundering, corruption, and terror financing.

Fortunately, ending the abuse of anonymous companies has the backing of a powerful and growing alliance of ideologically-diverse constituencies.  Supporters of reform include hundreds of national security experts, police and prosecutors, human rights organizations, anti-corruption advocates, banks and credit unions, CEOs, realtors, large businesses, small business owners, faith groups, anti-human trafficking groups, global development NGOs, labor unions, and scholars at both conservative and liberal think tanks. 

After leading the opposition to reform for a decade, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed transparency this summer.

It’s one of the few areas where the outgoing Trump Administration agrees with the incoming Biden Administration.

Heck, the state of Delaware even supports reform.

Thanks to all of this support — after more than a decade of debate and inaction in Washington — it now appears as though Congress will finally act — and that the days of abusing anonymous U.S. companies are coming to an end.

As you know, the final version of the annual defense bill includes historic bipartisan provisions which, for the first time, would end the incorporation of anonymous companies in the U.S.  This landmark transparency reform will improve our anti-money laundering rules, protect American communities from the harms caused by criminal and corrupt activity, and ensure the integrity of our financial system.”

At a time when it’s easy to be cynical about Washington, the bipartisan process that led to this moment is an example of Congress at its best — with lawmakers like Rep. Maloney doggedly working across the aisle for years in good faith negotiations.  Not only is this an historic anti-corruption victory, it’s a reminder that good things can still happen in Washington.