Washington DC - The UN Economic Commission for Africa renewed calls to tackle money laundering during a UN meeting this week in Addis Ababa. At the meeting, governments were urged to follow the recommendations in the Mbeki report that notes Africa loses between $50 and $80 billion annually through corruption, tax evasion and other "illicit financial flows."
“The revenue loss to countries from tax evasion and money laundering across Africa impact vulnerable communities across the continent," stated Eric LeCompte the Executive Director of the religious development group, Jubilee USA. "Too many African countries are facing new debt crises because of revenue shortfalls." LeCompte serves on United Nation finance expert groups.
In an opinion piece in The Hill on Thursday, the vice president of the National Foreign Trade Council urged Congress to adopt transparency regulations to tackle money laundering and corruption in connection with Russia. The author cites recommendations from a report of the Atlantic Council that would reveal the actual owner of a shell company. "Anonymous" shell companies can be used as vehicles for corruption and to hide the identity of the owner who benefits from the corporation. Board members of the National Foreign Trade Council are a who's who of multinational businesses including Amazon, Chevron, Ford, Facebook, Deloitte and Walmart.
"Congress is considering legislation that can help address global corruption and tax evasion," noted LeCompte.
Legislation currently under consideration by the US Congress could help address the money laundering problem. Representatives Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Peter King (R-NY) introduced the Corporate Transparency Act (HB3089) in the House. Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced the companion Senate bill (S1717). The legislation would create a registry for the true owners of shell companies.
Last week 24 US Attorneys General wrote Congress asking for legislation like the Corporate Transparency Act.
Read the report Mbeki report on illicit financial flows
Read the Atlantic Council Report
Read the Attorneys General Congress Letter
Washington DC - 24 State Attorneys General wrote to Congress supporting action to disclose the actual owner of a shell company to law enforcement. "Anonymous" shell companies can be used to hide the identity of the owner.
"Shell companies are used by corrupt government officials to steal money from their people and hide the identities of people involved in the modern day human slave trade," stated Jubilee USA Executive Director Eric LeCompte who serves on United Nations financial expert groups.
The Attorneys General letter raises concerns of how shell companies are sometimes used. "The use of anonymous shell companies by those engaged in human trafficking, drug dealing, and other crimes, allows criminals to launder and spend money attained through criminal activity without accountability," wrote the Attorneys General.
"Shell companies provide vehicles for tax evasion and corruption that contribute to an annual trillion dollar loss to the developing world," said LeCompte.
Read the Attorneys General Letter here.
Washington DC - This week the US Department of Education proposed new student "borrower defense" rules.
"If implemented, these rules place a greater burden on students to prove their case for debt relief when for-profit colleges mislead or defraud them," stated Jubilee USA Executive Director Eric LeCompte. LeCompte's organization supported 2016 federal regulations that allowed students to receive debt relief after the collapse of two for-profit schools, ITT Technical Institute and Corinthian Colleges.
Because the bar would be higher for students to prove their case for debt relief under the new rule, the Trump Administration argues federal student debt relief would be reduced by $13 billion over 10 years. The regulations now face a 30 day open federal comment period. If the Administration finalizes the rules, they could go into affect in 2019.
Una legislación nueva del Senado de EE.UU. le ofrece opciones más a Puerto Rico para recortar su deuda. Los senadores Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Ed Markey (D-MA) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) presentaron el proyecto de ley intitulado “Ley para el Alivio a Territorios de EE.UU.”. Si el Congreso de EE.UU. aprobara esta ley, los territorios de los EE.UU. que hayan experimentado un desastre natural, podrían cualificar para recibir un alivio en su deuda.
“Puerto Rico continúa luchando con los resultados causados por los huracanes Irma y María” señaló Roberto O González Nieves, OFM, Arzobispo Metropolitano de San Juan de Puerto Rico. “El impacto de los huracanes fue más agudo en la isla por la la crisis de la deuda pública y las políticas de austeridad fiscal implantadas. Legislación como la presentada en este proyecto de ley, puede proveernos más opciones para obtener un alivio en nuestra deuda y a su vez proveer un incremento en la transparencia en las finanzas públicas de nuestra isla”.
El proyecto de ley también crea una comisión para auditar la deuda, de modo tal, que se puedan identificar las causas de esta última. Territorios de EE.UU., como por ejemplo Puesto Rico, podrían cualificar para el alivio en su deuda, si dos de los siguientes tres criterios se cumplen. Veamos. Primero, si el territorio ha sufrido una disminución en su población. Segundo, si se encuentra recibiendo ayuda federal para desastres naturales. Tercero, si el total de la deuda por persona excede los $15,000.
Tanto Puerto Rico como las Islas Vírgenes probablemente cumplen con los requisitos de elegibilidad del proyecto de ley del Senado de EE.UU.
“Más allá del alivio en su deuda, tanto Puerto Rico como las Islas Vírgenes, necesitan que el Congreso autorice más fondos de ayuda para desastres, para poder reconstruir una infraestructura capaz de soportar tormentas futuras” señaló Eric LeCompte, Director Ejecutivo de Jubilee USA. LeCompte también funge como experto en deuda pública para las Naciones Unidas y a su vez colabora con líderes religiosos de Puerto Rico en busca de una solución para la crisis de la deuda publica en la isla. “Sin un recorte significativo de la deuda publica de Puerto Rico, la esperanza para reducir la alta tasa de pobreza infantil en la isla es muy poca, no menos importante, tan poco se podría alcanzar un crecimiento económico sustentable”.
Lea la “Ley para el Alivio a Territorios de EE.UU 2018”
Read this release in English
The US Treasury is calling for greater scrutiny into the use of "anonymous" shell companies. Last week, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin urged Congress to quickly pass legislation to make the identity of shell company owners available to law enforcement.
Read the House version of the Corporate Transparency Act
"Corrupt public officials and scams that exploit vulnerable communities use shell companies to hide their money," noted Eric LeCompte the Executive Director of Jubilee USA, a religious development group. "Congress should pass legislation like the Corporate Transparency Act to protect the vulnerable and shed more light into this secretive world."
The Corporate Transparency Act would disclose the name of the owner who benefits from the shell corporation. In the House, the act was introduced by Representatives Peter King (R-NY) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) are lead sponsors of the Senate companion bill.
Mnuchin's public comments come as Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) targets money laundering through anonymous shell companies in high-end real-estate deals. FinCEN requires the true identity of a shell company owner be disclosed in real-estate transactions in Florida, New York, Texas, California and Hawaii.
The Senate is about to vote on a Puerto Rico amendment to the 2018 Farm Bill. We need you to make a quick call to your Senators now.
Please urgently call your Senators and ask them to support Senators Marco Rubio and Kirsten Gillibrand’s Farm Bill amendment to extend special disaster aid for nearly 700,000 vulnerable people across Puerto Rico.
Since hurricane Maria, overall poverty rates have grown beyond half of the island's population. Nearly 60 percent of children in Puerto Rico live in poverty.
Senators Rubio and Gillibrand introduced a disaster relief amendment to the Farm Bill that allows up to $635 million to be spent on Puerto Rico's version of SNAP or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Already this year because of your actions, we've won more than $30 Billion in recovery aid and provisions for Puerto Rico to rebuild to withstand future storms. For the last several years, we've moved forward measures for debt relief. Now as we move debt relief forward, this amendment helps us pull back some of the impacts of austerity policies.
Call your Senators now and ask them to support Senator Rubio and Gillibrand’s amendment to secure nutritional assistance for the most vulnerable people in Puerto Rico.
The Farm Bill is moving fast. Please call the Senate now.
European Finance Ministers endorse a new Greece debt agreement that provides financing in exchange for maintaining austerity policies and economic reforms.
“Parts of the Greece deal provide more breathing space for Greece in the short-term, but we are still concerned that there isn't enough debt relief to keep Greece out of trouble for the long-term," stated Jubilee USA Executive Director Eric LeCompte, who monitors and works on international debt agreements. "I'm also worried that the continued austerity policies hurt too many Greeks and will negatively impact economic growth."
While the International Monetary Fund's Christine LaGarde supports the deal, she raised concerns about the deal's ability to achieve sustainability for the Greek economy.
Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA was recently quoted in Politico speaking about transparency in disaster recovery efforts in Puerto Rico. Read excerpt below and follow link to full article.
Zinke's political ties to Virgin Islands improved Interior's hurricane response, party boss says
By Ben Lefebvre
Disaster response experts say it would be inappropriate for Canegata's political connections to influence Interior's efforts in the Virgin Islands.
“These are processes that are supposed to be transparent and supposed to be above the board,” said Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA, an anti-poverty group that has been involved in hurricane disaster relief efforts. “So, it would not be something a political party would be part of.”
Read more here.