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Tuesday, Mar 02, 2021

Advocates push for US to embrace role as global anti-corruption champion

Advocates push for US to embrace role as global anti-corruption champion

Seeking to seize the momentum of Joe Biden’s first days in office, a global anti-corruption activist group are pushing to have the U.S. expand anti-money-laundering reforms.
Rules that force bankers to do due diligence on their clients should be expanded to cover hedge funds, private equity, lawyers and accountants, according to an advocacy group that wants the United States to re-establish itself as a global leader in the fight against dirty money and corruption.

Global anti-corruption organization Transparency International released a new report Wednesday entitled “Combating Global Corruption: A Bipartisan Plan” — a 21-point agenda for the new U.S. administration to crack down on money laundering and financial secrecy. Recommendations also include increased protections for whistleblowers, clamping down on abuse of “golden visa” programs, and better monitoring and more international cooperation around cross-border financial transactions.

President Joe Biden made fighting illicit finance worldwide a central part of his foreign policy agenda in 2020, even specifically pledging to “end the practice of anonymous shell companies” in a platform posted on his campaign website.

Scott Greytak, Transparency International’s U.S. advocacy director, told ICIJ that the plan was crafted with the help of dozens of experts, including academics, policy makers, and advocacy groups.

“There were a lot of really great ideas that had been pitched and vetted and tire-kicked for years, and then there were some newer ideas that we were really drawn to,” Greytak said. “Combine this set of really good ideas with the fact that we have a political moment now where the Biden administration has made anti-corruption and anti-kleptocracy one of the pillars of its foreign policy, and you get a really good alignment of interests.”

Among the key short-term proposals is expanding the “know your customer” rules that banks currently follow to also apply to hedge funds and the private equity industry, a move that the Treasury Department already has the statutory authority to make.
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