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