February 25,2016

Press Contact:

Lindsey Held (202) 224-4515

Wyden Calls for Stop to Terrorist Financing through Anonymous Shell Companies

Beneficial Ownership Transparency Needed

WASHINGTON – The Treasury must do everything possible to stop the flow of terrorist finances through anonymous shell companies, Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore. wrote to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew today.

Anonymous shell companies – companies that have disguised their ownership – have been used for terrorist financing activities as well as abuses such as defrauding the Internal Revenue Service and Medicare.  Convicted arms dealer Victor Bout, the “merchant of death” used anonymous U.S. shell companies to facilitate his crimes, and another anonymous U.S. company was linked to a sanctioned Iranian bank. 

Currently the United States is not fully compliant with any of the G20 principles intended to create beneficial ownership transparency, lagging behind its peer nations, according to a recent study by Transparency International.  Despite proposals from the Senate, House, and White House, there is not consensus on the best way to collect U.S. beneficial ownership information in order to help stop the financing of terrorist activity. 

“The Senate Finance Committee has responsibility to conduct oversight of many Treasury Department functions, including efforts related to financial crimes and terrorist financing.  In light of the threat the U.S. faces from well-funded global terrorist organizations, I want to be sure that our government is doing everything possible stop the flow of terrorist finances,” wrote Wyden.

The full letter can be found here.