Eric LeCompte is Cited in Ghana Business News on Debt, Tax and Transparency

Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA was recently quoted in Ghana Business News speaking on transparency. Read excerpt below and follow link to full article.

Lack of transparency in Chinese lending will increase Africa’s debt burden

By Emmanuel K. Dogbevi

Speaking to ghanabusinessnews.com in a telephone interview, Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA Network, a coalition of religious, development and advocacy groups that works on debt, tax, trade and transparency policies that help end poverty, says Chinese lending lacks the level of transparency that other lending agreements have. This lack of transparency he says will “increase Africa’s debt burden.”

He points out that the situation is driven by the lack of what he calls “responsible lending rules in the international system.”

“China is benefiting from the lack of rules now,” he said.

LeCompte made reference to the period from 2001 to 2005, noting that during that period, growing lending led to debt forgiveness and “debt forgiveness led to economic growth in Africa, but lately the debt burden is growing. You have problems when countries cannot pay,” he said.

According to him, the Chinese are taking advantage of the debt situation to take natural resources from these countries.

“It is absolutely imperative that we find other means to finance African countries,” he added.

LeCompte called for laws to tackle tax avoidance and illicit financial flows from which African countries are losing billions of dollars.

“We need laws for responsible lending and borrowing. We need to look at new creative processes for debt relief. We need laws to curb tax evasion and global bankruptcy rules,” he said.

Read more here

Read More

Religious Development Group Responds to US/Mexico Trade Deal

President Trump announced on Monday that the United States reached a trade deal with Mexico that replaces the previous North American Free Trade Agreement, also known as NAFTA. As the announcement took place, religious groups met with the Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) on the agreement.

"While we still don't have full details on the agreement, we hope the new agreement ensures greater protections for vulnerable communities than previous trade agreements," noted Jubilee USA Executive Director Eric LeCompte, who was at the USTR meeting. "We believe we've made some progress."

In May, major US religious groups wrote President Trump and Congress urging that trade agreements protect poor people in trade disputes and ensure access to life-saving drugs. The statement was issued by Jubilee USA and the Catholic, Episcopal, United Methodist, Presbyterian, Evangelical Lutheran and United Church of Christ Churches.

A final agreement has not been signed and would need to be approved by Congress. Canada may also join the negotiations on a final or separate agreement.

Read the statement NAFTA and International Public Health: An Interfaith Call for Access to Medicines

 

 

Read More

"Stop Corruption and Money Laundering," says United Nations and Multinational Companies 

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

Read More

Over 20 State Attorneys General Call for Shell Company Transparency

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.

Read More

New Student Loan Rule Sides with For-Profit Colleges

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.

Read More

Senate Bill Offers Debt Relief for Puerto Rico

New Senate legislation offers additional options for Puerto Rico to cut its debt. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Ed Markey (D-MA) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) introduced the US Territorial Relief Act. If Congress passes the act, US Territories that experience natural disasters could qualify for debt relief.
 
"Puerto Rico continues to struggle with the aftermath of Hurricanes Maria and Irma," noted Puerto Rico Archbishop Roberto González Nieves. "The hurricanes were made worse by debt crisis and austerity policies. Legislation such as this, can provide us more options for debt relief and greater transparency in the finances of our island."

The bill also creates an audit commission to study the causes of the debt. US Territories, like Puerto Rico, would qualify for relief if two of three criteria are met. The specific criteria refer to population decrease, receiving federal disaster aid and the total debt per person exceeds $15,000.
 
Both Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands likely meet the Senate Bill's eligibility requirements.

“Beyond debt relief, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands still need Congress to authorize more disaster aid to rebuild to withstand the coming storms," stated Jubilee USA Executive Director Eric LeCompte. LeCompte serves on United Nation debt expert groups and works with Puerto Rico religious leaders on resolving the debt crisis. "Without seriously cutting Puerto Rico's debt there is little hope for reducing the high child poverty rate, let alone seeing sustainable economic growth."

Read More

Proyecto de ley del Senado DE EE.UU. le ofrece a Puerto Rico un alivio en su deuda

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

Read More

Treasury Takes Aim at Shell Companies

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. 

"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.

Read the House version of the Corporate Transparency Act

Read the Senate version of the Corporate Transparency Act
Read More

Senate Passes Puerto Rico Nutritional Assistance in Farm Bill

Puerto Rico Housing Assistance Fails in Senate

The US Senate voted for Puerto Rico disaster relief in the form of food assistance with the passage of the "Farm Bill." The Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 included Senators Marco Rubio and Kirsten Gillibrand's amendment to fund Puerto Rico's Nutritional Assistance Program.

“More than 700,000 people in Puerto Rico will benefit from the amendment from Senators Rubio and Gillibrand in the Farm Bill," noted Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA. LeCompte's organization lobbied Congress on the amendment and issued an action alert to secure support for the amendment. “The hurricanes pushed more than half of the island's people into poverty. The food assistance passed in the Senate is urgently needed."

Senators Rubio and Gillibrand introduced the nutritional assistance 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.

A bill proposed by Senator Bill Nelson of Florida to extend FEMA housing assistance was blocked in the Senate ahead of Thursday's Farm Bill vote. Nelson's Disaster Housing Assistance Act, S2880, sought to establish a pilot program for long-term rental assistance for families affected by natural disasters. FEMA housing assistance will end tomorrowJune 30.

"US citizens continue to suffer across Puerto Rico. The hurricanes ravaged an island already suffering from a severe debt crisis," said LeCompte. "Congress needs to stop petty debates and get relief aid as quickly as possible to the people suffering on the island."

The House passed their version of the agriculture bill last week. A Senate and House conference committee will reconcile the differences between the two bills before it heads to President Trump's desk.

Read Jubilee USA's Puerto Rico Farm Bill Action Alert

Read More

Call Senate for Puerto Rico Food Assistance

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.

Thanks,

Kate

Read More