President Joe Biden’s administration will announce an anti-corruption strategy Monday meant to tackle two major vehicles for money laundering in the United States — real estate transactions and shell companies.
“We’ll be releasing the first ever US government strategy on countering corruption,” a senior administration official said on a conference call ahead of the announcement.
The administration intends to tighten regulations on real estate transactions to prevent them from being used to launder money earned through trafficking, embezzlement or bribes.
It also aims to increase financial transparency by better identifying who is behind front companies.
“With the United States being the world’s largest economy, we understand that we bear particular responsibility to address our own regulatory deficiencies,” the official said.
This, the official added, includes better identification of beneficial owners, which refers to the real owners of financial assets placed in shell companies.
Congress passed a law in January requiring US companies to declare their beneficial owners to the federal government. This marked a breakthrough in the United States, where laws on the matter are extremely flexible — for example in places such as Delaware, Biden’s home state.
The White House wants to better regulate real estate transactions, particularly when made in cash.
“The US real estate market continues to be used as a vehicle for money laundering,” the US Treasury Department said in a statement.
In a report published in August, the Washington think tank Global Financial Integrity (GFI) estimated that in the last five years, at least $2.3 billion in dirty money had been laundered through real estate transactions in the United States.
“Yet the US remains the only G7 country that does not require real estate professionals to comply with anti-money laundering (AML) laws and regulations,” it said. (AFP)