Today’s announcement is meant specifically for readers affiliated with civil society organizations that work on anticorruption, anti-money laundering, and related issues (especially, though not exclusively, in the United States). As most of you are likely aware, last year the United States enacted the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA), and the U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) is in the process of developing rules to implement that act. The formal period for public comment on the proposed rules has already passed, but in light of the recent revelations concerning the Pandora Papers–which highlighted, among other things, how trusts have been abused to hide illicit assets–a coalition of civil society organizations, led by Transparency International’s US chapter, is submitting a letter to FinCEN urging the adoption of appropriately vigorous rules. In particular, the letter urges FinCEN (and here I am quoting directly from the letter) to:
- Maintain the comprehensive definition of “beneficial owner” expressly included in the CTA;
- Provide for broad coverage of the types of entities required to register, including, but not limited to, all non-exempted trusts;
- Limit the interpretations of the exemptions, as best as possible, to include only those that file beneficial ownership information elsewhere with authorities or are truly low risk for money laundering, terrorist financing, and other harms; and
- Allow for timely and complete access to beneficial ownership information for all law enforcement and those with legal obligations to protect our financial system.
The deadline for signing onto the letter is tomorrow, October 13th. As noted above, the letter is intended to be from a coalition of organizations, rather than individuals, but if any of you out there are affiliated with civil society organizations that have not yet signed onto the letter, I urge you to do so.