US: Pass Law to Stem Corruption, Promote Rights

Act Would Require Companies to Disclose Real Owners

House Financial Services Committee chair­woman Maxine Waters lis­tens dur­ing a hear­ing with lead­ers of major banks on Wednesday, April 10, 2019 in Washington, DC.© 2019 AP Images

(Washington, DC) – The United States Congress should pass a pro­posed law that would pro­vide law enforce­ment a cru­cial tool for stem­ming cor­rup­tion and advanc­ing human rights, 10 human rights orga­ni­za­tions said in a let­ter to mem­bers of Congress today. 

Although it has yet to be for­mal­ly intro­duced, a draft of the Corporate Transparency Act of 2019 was the sub­ject of a House Financial Services Committee hear­ing on March 13 and will be dis­cussed at a con­gres­sion­al brief­ing on Friday. The bill would require American com­pa­nies to dis­close infor­ma­tion about the actu­al peo­ple who own or con­trol them, mak­ing it hard­er for cor­rupt for­eign offi­cials to reg­is­ter busi­ness­es anony­mous­ly, to hide ill-got­ten gains, and to escape legal accountability.

The orga­ni­za­tions are Amnesty International USA, Freedom House, Global Witness, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, International Corporate Accountability Roundtable, International Labor Rights Forum, EarthRights International, EG Justice, and Enough Project.

Corruption pos­es a seri­ous chal­lenge to human rights in many coun­tries. The loss of resources under­mines a government’s abil­i­ty to invest in health, edu­ca­tion, hous­ing, and oth­er basic rights. Corrupt offi­cials fre­quent­ly tar­get trans­paren­cy advo­cates, jour­nal­ists, and oth­ers who they fear will expose their crimes and they abuse the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem to pun­ish their crit­ics and pro­tect them­selves from prosecution.

Allowing busi­ness­es to move mil­lions of dol­lars with­out any­one know­ing who owns them is a gift to cor­rupt for­eign offi­cials look­ing to laun­der dirty mon­ey,” said Sarah Saadoun, busi­ness researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The US Congress should pass this bill to dri­ve mon­ey laun­der­ers out of the shad­ows and help restore the mon­ey they stole to the pub­lic to whom it belongs.”

Original source: Human Rights Watch