Breaking: Senate Puerto Rico Vote

Friends, 

Because of your calls to the Senate and the tens of thousands of messages we got to Congress on Puerto Rico disaster and debt relief, the Senate agreed to vote on our proposed legislation next week. As early as Monday, the Senate could pass our 3 month campaign to fund $600 million for Puerto Rico disaster "food stamps" for more than a million people in Puerto Rico.

We need you to take action now.

Your calls are working. We need to move Congress to pass this vital food and disaster assistance now. Call your Senators now and tell them to pass disaster relief for Puerto Rico.

Already, we won $50 billion in disaster relief and aid for the island. We won Republican and Democratic support for Nutrition Assistance for Puerto Rico.

Please take action now and tell Congress to fund Puerto Rico’s Nutrition Assistance Program and provide further disaster aid and support debt relief. The Senate may vote on Monday, so they need to hear from you now.

Gratefully,

Kate Zeller
Campaigns Director

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Senate Votes on Puerto Rico Disaster Aid and Emergency Food Assistance

Washington, DC - The Senate agreed to vote next week on disaster relief legislation that includes $600 million in emergency food assistance for Puerto Rico. In recent days, a turbulent exchange between President Trump and Congressional leadership exploded over whether or not Puerto Rico disaster aid monies should be included in Senate legislation.

“We need to urgently pass more disaster relief for Puerto Rico. Too many fellow Americans continue to suffer in Puerto Rico because of the hurricanes and a terrible financial crisis," said Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of Jubilee USA, whose organization ran a three-month campaign to pass $600 million for Puerto Rico's Nutrition Assistance Program (NAP).

Now, legislation poised for Senate vote as early as Monday includes funding for Puerto Rico's NAP. The "food stamps" program supports poor people affected after 2017 hurricanes decimated the island. The Senate legislation restores benefits for more than 1 million participants who lost food assistance benefits on March 1st.

Some lawmakers complain that not enough disaster aid for Puerto Rico is moving forward and some monies are stalled from delivery. Various Congress amendments and actions seek to deliver more disaster aid for the debt-strapped US Territory.

“Aid that was promised by Congress needs to be urgently delivered to Puerto Rico,” stated LeCompte. "The promise from Congress to relieve Puerto Rico's debt must also be delivered."

In 2016 Congress passed emergency debt restructuring legislation for Puerto Rico. The legislation, PROMESA or Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act, formed an oversight board for Puerto Rico, which is considering a new budget plan for Puerto Rico.

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House Hearing Reviews Financial Transparency Legislation

Washington DC - The House of Representatives is holding hearings on legislative initiatives to deter corruption and secrecy in the global financial system. The Financial Services Subcommittee on National Security, International Development and Monetary Policy convenes a March 13th hearing on "Promoting Corporate Transparency: Examining Legislative Proposals to Detect and Deter Financial Crime."

The Congressional Hearing explores the role that shell corporations play in hiding the true owner or actual person who benefits from a business.

"Some anonymous shell companies facilitate the theft of development aid and debt relief, the exploitation of vulnerable communities and the support of corrupt regimes in the developing world," wrote Jubilee USA Director Eric LeCompte in a letter to Congress ahead of the hearing. The letter from the head of the religious development group continues, "Shell companies contribute to an estimated one trillion dollars leaving the developing world annually through tax evasion and corruption. In the United States, anonymous shell companies contribute to Medicare fraud, thefts from vulnerable communities and human trafficking."

The House Committee is reviewing a discussion draft of the "Corporate Transparency Act of 2019," which makes the real identity of the owner of a shell company available to law enforcement and financial institutions.

Additional legislative solutions are under review during the House Hearing. The hearing docket examines draft legislation on hidden illegal monies and a Bill introduced in January to expose foreign corruption, the "Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Rewards Act."

"In the US and around the world, poor people are too often exploited by financial secrecy," stated LeCompte. "Action by Congress can increase global transparency and provide resources for development."

Read Jubilee USA's full letter to Congress on the hearing, “Promoting Corporate Transparency: Examining Legislative Proposals to Detect and Deter Financial Crime"

Visit the House Financial Services Committee to watch and review information on the hearing

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Congress Letter: House Corporate Transparency Hearing

The Honorable Maxine Waters
Chairwoman
U.S. House Committee on Financial Services
2129 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Patrick McHenry
Ranking Member
U.S. House Committee on Financial Services
4340 O'Neill House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20002

Re: March 13th Transparency Hearing and the Corporate Transparency Act of 2019

Dear Chairwoman Waters and Ranking Member McHenry:

On behalf of Jubilee USA, I want to thank-you for your support of our bipartisan initiatives to promote transparency, accountability and protections for the vulnerable in our financial system. Jubilee USA supports your March 13th, 2019 hearing on “Promoting Corporate Transparency: Examining Legislative Proposals to Detect and Deter Financial Crime.”

As you know from our work together in the past, Jubilee USA’s religious institutions, members and founders include more than 700 Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith communities and the US Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Methodist, Evangelical Lutheran, Catholic and United Church of Christ Churches. On behalf of our network, we are concerned with how financial secrecy, corruption and tax evasion impact vulnerable communities in the United States and around our world.

Some anonymous shell companies facilitate the theft of development aid and debt relief, the exploitation of vulnerable communities and the support of corrupt regimes in the developing world. Shell companies contribute to an estimated one trillion dollars leaving the developing world annually through tax evasion and corruption. In the United States, anonymous shell companies contribute to Medicare fraud, thefts from vulnerable communities and human trafficking.

The draft of the 2019 Corporate Transparency Act takes important steps toward ending abuses of anonymous companies. Increasing corporate transparency reduces corrupt behavior and can provide resources for US and global development. By identifying the owner who benefits from the existence of a corporation or collecting “beneficial ownership” data, law enforcement has tools to find criminals, corrupt public officials and deter enterprises that exploit the poor. Legislation that offers a clear and comprehensive definition of beneficial ownership avoids the pitfalls of inadequate definitions that only identify managers, directors or other stand-ins for the true owner(s).

The 2016 release of the “Panama Papers” was instructive in this regard. Due to lax rules around corporate ownership information, a single employee at the Panamanian law firm, Mossack Fonseca, served as the named entity for approximately 20,000 companies. She had little-to-no knowledge of the beneficial owners of those 20,000 companies.

Another crucial area in the draft is the provision governing access to information gathered. State and local law enforcement must have access because most investigations into illegal activity are performed by state and local officials in the United States. Financial institutions, which have anti-money laundering responsibilities, should have appropriate access to beneficial ownership by simple request.

On behalf of all at Jubilee USA we hold you in prayer as you work to ensure that our financial system protects the poor and fights corruption.

Sincerely,

Eric LeCompte
Executive Director

CC: Members of the House Financial Services Committee

 

PDF Version available here.

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Puerto Rico, Somalia and the World's Poor Hunger for Jubilee: Debt, Transparency, Trade and Disaster Economics

 Ecumenical Advocacy Days
 
April 6, 2019, 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
Commonwealth Room
Doubletree by Hilton Hotel Washington, D.C. – Crystal City
300 Army-Navy Dr.
Arlington, VA 22202-2891
 
Moderator: 
Eric LeCompte, Executive Director, Jubilee USA Network 
 
Panelists: 
Aniedi Okure, OP, Executive Director, Africa Faith and Justice Network
Zaina Kisongoa, Somalia Country Representative, American Friends Service Committee
Fran Quigley, Coordinator, Faith in Healthcare–Indiana University McKinney School of Law
 
The panel will discuss how vulnerable people around the world struggle because of global economic policies. Panelists will share specific Jubilee campaign actions on Africa debt, winning disaster and debt relief for Puerto Rico and Somalia, curbing tax evasion and corruption and ensuring vulnerable communities can access medicine in trade agreements.
 
Sponsors: Jubilee USA Network
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Tackling the Next Wave of Sovereign Debt Crises

IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings
Wednesday, April 10, 2019,
3:00pm - 4:00pm
IMF Headquarters 1 - Meeting Hall A&B
 
Moderator: 
 Mr. Larry Elliott, Economics Editor, The Guardian
 
Panelists: 
Mr. David Lipton, First Deputy Managing Director, IMF
Mr. Fanwell Kenala Bokosi, Executive Director, African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD)
Mr. Lee Buccheit, Legal Expert
Ms. Odette Lienau, Professor of Law, Cornell University and Yale University
H.E. Romuald Wadagni, Minister of Finance of Benin
 
Debt is at record levels in advanced economies and emerging markets. 40 percent of low income countries are wrestling with debt distress or high-risk debt levels. If measures are not put in place to reduce risk, a new and broad-based wave of debt crises could emerge as a major threat for the 2030 development agenda. In a few countries, a debt crisis has already materialized. Can the current international financial architecture provide prevention and resolution of debt and financial crises? Or does it need to be reformed?
 
Sponsors: The International Monetary Fund, Jubilee USA Network, AFRODAD, Jubilee Germany, Jubilee Debt Campaign UK, Eurodad, Latindadd, Oxfam
To attend these events, individuals must be credentialed for the IMF/WB Spring Meetings.
  
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DebtCon: Political Economy and Governance

April 11, 2019,
10:30 am - 12:00 pm
Georgetown Law
600 New Jersey Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
 
Chair: 
Eric LeCompte, Jubilee USA Network 
 
Panelists: 
Barry Herman, The New School, presenting “Protecting Social Protections during Debt Crises”
Maria Ifeoluwa Oluyeju, Tulane University, presenting “Normative Framework for Cross-Jurisdictional Regulation of Distressed Debt Hedge Funds for Efficient Secondary Sovereign Debt Markets”
Arturo Porzecanski, American University, presenting “Human Rights and Sovereign Debts in the Context of Property and Creditor Rights”
Dania Thomas, University of Glasgow, “Delineating an Implied Good Faith Duty to Negotiate in Sovereign Debt Contracts, Workouts, and Party Expectations”
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Puerto Rico, NAFTA - We need your help

Friends,

Our Congress calls and messages are positively impacting our Puerto Rico efforts for debt relief, disaster aid and child poverty reduction.

Because of your pressure and Jubilee USA meetings with the White House and with Congress, we moved the White House to now support the Nutrition Assistance Program for Puerto Rico. Because of our work together, Republican Senate legislation is now including our $600 million request for disaster food assistance for more than a million vulnerable people in Puerto Rico.

We need your support to pass the Senate legislation as soon as possible. Over a week ago, more than a million fellow Americans in Puerto Rico saw disaster food benefits cut. Your tax-deductible gift to Jubilee USA today will be doubled and double our impacts on winning disaster and debt relief for Puerto Rico. Your gift is vital now to win a new NAFTA deal that protects the vulnerable and win our current campaigns for financial transparency.

When we found out that a firm advising Puerto Rico's debt restructuring had a subsidiary firm that owned Puerto Rico debt, our messages to Congress successfully pushed the advisers of Puerto Rico's debt restructuring to disclose conflicts of interest.

Your gift really matters now as we push Congress and the White House to ensure that a new NAFTA deal protects the vulnerable and ensures that vulnerable people can get the medicine they need. Already, our trade campaign efforts secured commitments to stop "vulture funds" from using trade deals to collect on old bad debt.

When you join me and contribute to support Jubilee USA's vital 2019 campaigns, your gift will be matched and doubled. In a tough political environment, your gift makes it possible for us to move forward trade deals, debt deals and corporate transparency legislation that lifts and protects the vulnerable.

Over the last year, we won more than $50 billion in disaster aid for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Working with Republican and Democratic leadership we secured the first ever "better building" provisions so the islands can rebuild to withstand future storms. Because of your multi-year support for debt relief for Puerto Rico, we stopped $8 billion dollars from reaching the hands of creditors and now the courts are reviewing a plan to cancel another $6 billion in debt. We stopped new vulture funds from sweeping in and buying debt cheap. We won the first super bankruptcy process that has the potential to deal with all of Puerto Rico's debt. We won a Puerto Rico process to reduce the 60% child poverty rate and audit the debt.

Unfortunately, some of the processes we won failed to move forward and we need to urgently move them forward.

We need to win another $70 billion in disaster aid and we need to be sure that Puerto Rico's quick moving bankruptcy process cuts enough debt and stops austerity. Predatory hedge funds and creditors are trying to stop Puerto Rico's bankruptcy process and legal challenges are heading to the Supreme Court.

Your tax-deductible donation is needed now for our efforts to move forward. Whether you donate $25, $100, $7, $500 or $250, your gift now is matched and doubles our impact.

I am so grateful for your partnership and support.

Eric LeCompte
Executive Director

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Puerto Rico Debt, Disaster Relief - Calls are Working

Friends, 

Thanks to your partnership, we've generated tens of thousands of messages to Congress on Puerto Rico. Because of our campaign efforts, we are moving forward debt relief, transparency and disaster aid for the US Territory.

A lot is happening and we need you to take action right away.

Because of our work together, we ensured that Puerto Rico's debt advisors need to disclose conflicts of interest. Because of our phone calls to Congress since December, the Senate is now including $600 million in Nutritional Assistance Program benefits for over million vulnerable people in Puerto Rico.

Now we need to move Congress to pass this vital disaster food assistance. On March 1, over a million fellow Americans in Puerto Rico saw their disaster food assistance cut. While we moved Republican Senate leadership to include the assistance in a new package - the Senate must hear from you right away to pass this emergency food assistance. Call the Senate now and tell them that Puerto Rico needs emergency food assistance funding and comprehensive and transparent debt relief.

You made this moment possible with your calls and messages to Congress. Your actions made a big difference and if we can continue to act, we will move Republicans and Democrats to create a Jubilee for Puerto Rico. If you've already made a call to Congress, it's urgent that you call and leave a message again.

Together, we won more than $50 billion in disaster aid for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Working with Republican and Democratic leadership we secured the first ever "better building" provisions so the islands can rebuild to withstand the next storm. Because of your support for debt relief for Puerto Rico, we stopped $8 billion dollars from reaching the hands of creditors. We stopped new vulture funds from sweeping in and buying debt cheap. We won the first super bankruptcy process to deal with all debt since the 1953 process when Germany's debt was relieved. We won a process to reduce the 60% child poverty rate and audit the debt.

The progress only happened because of our partnership together and our push to Congress and the White House.

While we won a lot, we still have a lot to do. Some of the processes we won failed to move forward. We need to win another $70 billion in disaster aid and we need to be sure that Puerto Rico's bankruptcy process cuts enough debt and prevents austerity.

Please call your Senator now and ask them to pass disaster food assistance and support processes for transparent and sustainable debt cuts.

In recent weeks, Jubilee USA's Executive Director, Eric LeCompte, met with the White House and Republican and Democratic leadership to move forward our Puerto Rico efforts. Eric briefed leaders of Congress on the processes for disaster aid and debt relief. At every meeting, Republican and Democratic leaders told Eric we've only gotten this far because of Jubilee USA's efforts.

Republican and Democratic leaders also noted we can only win further debt and disaster relief for Puerto Rico with Jubilee USA's continued action.

Please take a moment and call your Senator so urgent food assistance can be passed and Puerto Rico's debt is cut to protect the vulnerable. You can leave a message 7 days a week and 24 hours a day. At this point, every call counts and makes a difference. 

Gratefully,

Kate Zeller
Campaigns Director

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Puerto Rico Debt Advisors Subject to Conflict Disclosure

Washington DC - After an investigation into potential conflicts of interest in Puerto Rico's debt restructuring, the island's oversight board notes it will increase disclosure requirements for advisors. The investigation began in response to a debt consultant whose affiliate company holds Puerto Rico debt.

"It's critical that any groups who are hired to advise on Puerto Rico's debt crisis disclose if they also own debt or have a conflict of interest," noted Jubilee USA Executive Director Eric LeCompte. LeCompte serves on United Nation debt expert groups and monitored Puerto Rico's debt crisis for the last 4 years. "US bankruptcy law already requires this type of disclosure and it should also be required for the Puerto Rico debt restructuring."

The 100-page investigation focused on the case of McKinsey and Company, hired to advise Puerto Rico's financial oversight board on the island's debt. The advisor's affiliate company MIO Partners owns Puerto Rico debt.

 

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