Representatives Malinowski, Salazar, Cohen and Wilson Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Stop Enablers of International Corruption

(Washington, DC) Representatives Tom Malinowski (D‑NJ), Maria Elvira Salazar (R‑FL), Steve Cohen (D‑TN), and Joe Wilson (R‑SC) today announced the intro­duc­tion of the bipar­ti­san Establishing New Authorities for Business Laundering and Enabling Risks to Security (ENABLERS) Act – a bill that clos­es loop­holes that klep­to­crats from around the world use to laun­der mon­ey in the United States. 

As high­light­ed in the Pandora Papers, dic­ta­tors, crim­i­nals, and ter­ror­ists con­tin­ue to make the United States a des­ti­na­tion of choice for hid­ing illic­it­ly acquired wealth. Because our laws require finan­cial insti­tu­tions to report sus­pi­cious trans­ac­tions, cor­rupt actors increas­ing­ly rely on oth­er enablers not oblig­at­ed to con­duct such due dili­gence, includ­ing law and pub­lic rela­tions firms, invest­ment and real estate advi­sors, and art deal­ers, to secure their wealth and dis­guise its ori­gins, through shell com­pa­nies, trusts, and oth­er invest­ment vehi­cles. For exam­ple, the Washington Post report­ed this week that American trust advi­sors in South Dakota helped a Colombian busi­ness­man laun­der drug mon­ey, and two Ecuadorian broth­ers hide mil­lions stolen from a gov­ern­ment bailout in their homeland.

The ENABLERS Act would impose stronger due dili­gence require­ments on such U.S.-based mid­dle­men, to ensure that the United States nev­er again facil­i­tates the cor­rup­tion and dic­ta­tor­ship we claim to oppose by giv­ing klep­to­crats and crim­i­nals a safe haven for the mon­ey they steal from their peo­ple. In turn, it would pro­tect Americans from inflat­ed real estate prices, job loss, human traf­fick­ing, and influ­ence peddling.

If we make banks report dirty mon­ey but allow law, real estate, and account­ing firms to look the oth­er way, that cre­ates a loop­hole that crooks and klep­to­crats can sail a yacht through,” said Representative Malinowski. “Our bill clos­es that loop­hole and encour­ages the admin­is­tra­tion to move in the same direction.”

Dictatorships like the Castro regime in Cuba, the Maduro regime in Venezuela and the Ortega regime in Nicaragua reg­u­lar­ly use enablers to facil­i­tate the move­ment of stolen assets into the United States. These klep­to­crats rob their peo­ple and under­mine democ­ra­cy. It’s time to crack­down on this manip­u­la­tion and stand with the vic­tims of cor­rup­tion who cry out for free­dom from this oppres­sion. America must not do busi­ness with dic­ta­tors.” said Representative Salazar (R‑FL).

The Pandora Papers reveal how cor­rup­tion under­mines democ­ra­cy. All around the world, coun­tries are being loot­ed and the most vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple vic­tim­ized by their elites. These klep­to­crats then laun­der that mon­ey to the West where they enjoy the high life – spend­ing the mon­ey on lux­u­ry cars, pent­hous­es, jets, and opu­lent par­ties. Some also spend it on inter­ven­ing in our democ­ra­cy, gain­ing influ­ence in our pol­i­tics and elites and work­ing to under­mine the rule of law. In order to fight cor­rup­tion, we must curb the enablers,” said Representative Steve Cohen (D‑TN).

American adver­saries rang­ing from China to Iran to Russia have tak­en advan­tage of the U.S. enablers of klep­toc­ra­cy – unscrupu­lous lawyers, accoun­tants, and oth­ers, to push their dirty mon­ey into our sys­tem, attempt­ing to under­mine our repub­lic from with­in. If we are seri­ous about fight­ing dic­ta­tor­ship, we need U.S. pro­fes­sion­als to do the most basic due dili­gence – no American should be accept­ing mon­ey from Chinese Communist Party oper­a­tives, Iranian mul­lahs, Russian oli­garchs or oth­ers. The ENABLERS Act is a crit­i­cal nation­al secu­ri­ty mea­sure,” said Representative Wilson (R‑SC).

Fact sheet and back­ground info here

Bill text here

Reps Malinowski, Salazar, Cohen, and Wilson are found­ing mem­bers of the Caucus Against Foreign Corruption and Kleptocracy, a bipar­ti­san group­ing of mem­bers of Congress that recent­ly led the suc­cess­ful­ly pas­sage of sev­er­al pieces of anti-cor­rup­tion leg­is­la­tion into the House’s nation­al defense bill, includ­ing the Justice for Victims of Kleptocracy Act, the Combating Global Corruption Act, mea­sures to sanc­tion Russian klep­to­crats, the Transnational Repression Accountability and Prevention Act, and the Foreign Corruption Accountability Act.