Congress Passes Shell Company Accountability Bill

Legislation Combats Human Trafficking and Curbs Theft of Development Aid, Say Advocates

Washington DC – By a vote of 84 to 13, the Senate passed corporate transparency legislation as part of the annual vote on the National Defense Authorization Act. The legislation reveals to authorities the real owners of so-called anonymous shell companies. These types of corporations can hide the identity of their owner and facilitate crime, development aid theft and human trafficking. The House passed the legislation on Tuesday and now the bill heads to President Trump's desk to be signed into law.

“Shell corporations are used by polluters, thieves and human traffickers,” said Eric LeCompte, the Executive Director of the religious development organization Jubilee USA Network. LeCompte's organization worked for passage of the legislation for over a decade, generating tens of thousands of e-mails and phone calls to Congress. “The passage of this legislation is progress towards tackling corruption, tax evasion and crimes against vulnerable populations.”

A UN panel of experts recently found that $1.6 trillion is laundered per year through shell companies and related mechanisms. Developing countries lose more than one trillion dollars per year to illicit financial flows.

Jubilee USA Network coordinated over 100 faith communities and some of the largest US religious institutions to encourage Congress and the White House to pass the legislation. Some of the religious groups joining Jubilee USA included the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Episcopal Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, National Council of Churches, Presbyterian Church, United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church, Catholic religious orders and Jewish, Christian and Muslim faith communities.

"The new law is the fruit of years of advocacy and partnership with Republicans and Democrats,” noted LeCompte. “While we  celebrate this progress, more must be done to win the higher degrees of disclosure and transparency that we still need.”

Read Jubilee USA's letter to the Senate in support of corporate transparency legislation here.