Human traffickers, money launderers, and terrorists too often utilize anonymous shell companies to evade law enforcement and hide their illegal activities. This clearly poses a risk to not only our national security, but also the safety and security of our Texas families. In an effort to get at this issue, H.R. 2315 was introduced, and it requires companies to disclose their true, beneficial owners to the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). Last week, I was proud to vote in favor for this important legislation to better protect you and your family.
This bipartisan bill enables law enforcement to curb money from flowing across our borders to terrorist organizations and prevent criminals from taking advantage of state laws. No states currently require companies to provide the identities of the company’s true owners, making it easy for criminals in North Texas and all over the country to start these anonymous shell companies, also known as “cover businesses.”
Just recently, the Dallas/Fort Worth area recorded one of the highest numbers of child trafficking victims in a month-long operation across the nation. North Texas was second only behind Las Vegas in Operation Independence Day, a campaign by law enforcement agencies that targeted sex traffickers and the recovery of child victims. Many of these sex trafficking rings operate under anonymous shell companies making it harder for law enforcement to discover. As co-chair of the Congressional Human Trafficking Caucus, this was common-sense legislation to fight against human trafficking, which I continue to fight against on your behalf.
Some of my Republican colleagues expressed concerns that the legislation would expose small-business owners’ personal information and create excessive paperwork for these businesses. However, beneficial ownership information collected by the Treasury or states will only be available to law enforcement and financial institutions with customer consent. More clearly, the information collected will not be shared outside of the intended purpose of combatting crime.
Before this legislation came to the House floor, I spoke with numerous groups including law enforcement agencies, small business owners, and financial institutions back home in Texas who support this important anti-money laundering reform. I believe this measure will give financial institutions and law enforcement in our district and across the country the tools necessary to protect you and your family from these serious threats.
Member of Congress