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New US company owner database ‘taking way too long’ to implement, experts warn

ICIJ – “After ICIJ’s FinCEN Files investigation, transparency advocates cheered a new law mandating a beneficial ownership register in the U.S. Two years later, experts are expressing serious concerns. A key U.S. reform designed to halt anonymous companies hiding illicit activities and funds remains stalled in the U.S. Treasury Department two years after the FinCEN Files, a global money laundering probe led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists,  spurred calls for strengthened safeguards. Experts say the Treasury Department is badly behind schedule in implementing the law mandating the government to collect ownership data from companies operating in the United States. Transparency advocates who cheered the new law now worry that the delays are so severe that the all-important registry could remain unfinished by the next presidential election, and that a new administration might have less interest in implementing and defending the law. “There is a lot of anxiety that the Biden administration will take the whole four years to finalize the rules setting up the beneficial ownership registry,” Elise Bean, an anti-corruption expert and former chief counsel of the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, said. “It is hard to understand what is taking so long.” At the heart of the delays, experts told ICIJ, are the Treasury’s attempts to finalize rules that must be in place before activating an ownership registry, a database that is to be made available to law enforcement agents and bank compliance officers. “FinCEN is working expeditiously to promulgate rules to implement the statute,” FinCEN spokesperson Jayna Desai told ICIJ, noting that the office does not yet have a date set for the rules to be published….”

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