Around the globe today, criminals are seeking to exploit the lack of transparency associated with U.S. companies to harm our national and economic security. Major drug trafficking cartels, arms traffickers and other criminal organizations have employed shell corporations to further their illegal activities and launder their ill-gotten proceeds. The Department of Justice joins our partners at the Departments of Treasury and Homeland Security in welcoming the introduction of an important bill (PDF) this week in Congress to “combat U.S. corporations with hidden owners” that would require disclosure of beneficial ownership information in the company formation process. Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division noted:
"It is essential to our national and economic security that we close the loophole enabling some of the world's worst actors in the criminal underworld to use shell companies established in the United States to move and hide their money. The proposed legislation represents an important step toward that goal."This proposed legislation would facilitate the transparency of the financial system by making it more difficult for criminal organizations to hide behind front companies and shell corporations, an objective referenced in the President’s Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime announced last week.