US makes corporate transparency commitment with 20 nations

WASHINGTON, 28 Mar: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen affirmed America’s commitment to enhancing corporate transparency along with more than 20 other countries at the Summit for Democracy on Tuesday.
While the Biden administration is already pursuing regulations to establish a new database on small business ownership, Yellen pledged at the summit that her department would maintain that database, known as the beneficial ownership registry, and would ensure that law enforcement will have access and that individuals’ personal data will be protected.
“The beneficial ownership database will deter dirty money from entering the U.S.,” Yellen said.
The registry will contain personal information on the owners of at least 32 million U.S. businesses as part of an effort to combat corruption.
Colombia, Malta and Japan are some of the countries included in the commitment.
“Unmasking shell corporations is the single most significant thing we can do to make our financial system inhospitable to corrupt actors,” Yellen said. She added that efforts with allies over the last year to track sanctioned Russian assets have “underscored our vulnerability” in tracking business ownership.
The United States is making the push to combat illicit finance, in part, as a response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as the U.S. tries to more easily identify wealthy Russians who are accused of hiding stolen money and assets in the United States and around the world.
The U.S. is hosting the second Summit for Democracy this week with the governments of Costa Rica, the Netherlands, South Korea and Zambia.
Last September, Treasury began rulemaking to create the small business ownership database. The rule will require most American businesses with fewer than 20 employees to register with the govern-ment as of Jan. 1, 2024.
“We have seen corrupt foreign officials bury stolen funds in U.S.-based shell companies; kleptocrats launder kickbacks through anonymous purchases of foreign real estate; and elites move corrupt proceeds through complicit or unw-itting financial gatekeepers like attorneys or wealth managers,” Yellen said. (AP)