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Attorney General Josh Stein Urges Senate to Pass Law to Fight Shell Companies

For Immediate Release:
Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Contact:
Laura Brewer (919) 716-6484

(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today urged the U.S. Senate to pass the Improving Laundering Laws and Increasing Comprehensive Information Tracking of Criminal Activity in Shell Holdings (ILLICIT CASH) Act. The ILLICIT CASH Act creates new tools for information sharing between financial institutions and law enforcement, updates the federal framework for fighting money laundering and terrorism financing, and requires entities to disclose the actual people who benefit from or control them.

“Companies that do business in our state need to follow our laws,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “This legislation will help local and state law enforcement work with the federal government to ensure we hold businesses and individuals accountable when they engage in illegal activity – I urge the Senate to pass it.”

In their letter, a coalition of 42 attorneys general recognizes that many states do not have the ability to track information on the actual people who control or benefit from corporations and other entities doing business in the state. Without that information, states cannot know if an entity is a shell for concealing the illicit proceeds of criminals like drug traffickers, terrorist financiers, tax evaders, and corrupt government officials.

Under the ILLICIT CASH Act, certain business entities will have to disclose a “beneficial owner” to the federal government. A beneficial owner is a “natural person” who controls an entity, owns at least 25 percent of it, or receives economic benefits from it. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network of the U.S. Department of Treasury (FinCEN) will then keep all the disclosed beneficial ownership information in a federal registry. The Act requires FinCEN to release beneficial ownership information to law enforcement agencies, including local and state law enforcement.

Attorney General Stein is joined in sending today’s letter by the Attorneys General of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, N. Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

A copy of the letter is available here.

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