Statements
October 3, 2022

Bipartisan Bill to Crack Down on American Enablers of Corruption Filed in Senate

A statement from Transparency International U.S.
October 3, 2022

Today, on the 1-year anniversary of the release of the Pandora Papers, Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) filed the Establishing New Authorities for Businesses Laundering and Enabling Risks to Security (“ENABLERS”) Act as an amendment to the Senate’s version of the annual defense bill, known as the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 (“NDAA”).

The ENABLERS Act would authorize the U.S. Treasury Department to require that people who provide to their clients certain financial services—such as incorporating a company, forming a trust, or managing assets—to adopt anti-money laundering (“AML”) procedures that can help detect, flag, and prevent the laundering of corrupt and other dirty money into the U.S. In July, the House of Representatives passed a very similar version of the Act as part of its version of the NDAA.

Scott Greytak, Director of Advocacy for Transparency International U.S. (“TI U.S.”), said the following on the filing of the ENABLERS Act as an amendment to the NDAA:

Cracking down on American enablers of corruption, especially those enablers who have helped facilitate the movement of stolen money out of Russia and into the United States, is a national security priority of the highest order. Fortunately, Republicans and Democrats have united behind the ENABLERS Act, which is the single most important anticorruption measure the United States Congress can adopt right now to prevent corrupt Russian officials and other kleptocrats from hiding and growing their dirty money in the United States.

Corrupt Russian leaders have financed their military aggression and authoritarian system of government by stealing from their people and investing that money abroad, including in the United States. Too often, this theft has involved the complicity of financial middlemen in the U.S. who fail to perform simple background checks on their clients.

For example, in June the U.S. Treasury blocked more than $1 billion in funds connected to Vladimir Putin financier Suleiman Kerimov via a Delaware trust. A U.S.-based enabler also formed a company in Delaware that reportedly owns a $15-million mansion in Washington, D.C., linked to Oleg Deripaska, a Russian oligarch and close Putin ally who was recently indicted on sanctions charges. Financial middlemen in the U.S. who set up certain trusts, form companies, and manage certain funds are under no legal obligation to perform even basic due diligence on their clients.

The ENABLERS Act would close these loopholes, and the Senate must act quickly to do so by including the bill in its final version of the NDAA.  

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Transparency International U.S. is part of the world’s largest coalition against corruption. In collaboration with national chapters in more than 100 countries, we are leading the fight to turn our vision of a world free from corruption into reality. 

Related Resources

  • Read a TI U.S. factsheet on the ENABLERS Act here;
  • Read an op-ed by Foundation for Defense of Democracies Action on the ENABLERS Act—“How American Lawyers and Accountants Help Fuel the War in Ukraine”—here;
  • Read a letter to Senate leadership in support of the ENABLERS Act signed by over 30 anticorruption organizations and prominent individuals here;
  • Read the U.S. Government’s Strategy on Countering Corruption which commits the Administration to “consider[ing] additional authorities to cover key gatekeepers, working with the Congress as necessary to secure additional authorities” here.

Media Contact 

Scott Greytak, Director of Advocacy, Transparency International U.S.
Telephone: +1 202-642-1515
Email: sgreytak@transparency.org
Twitter: @TransparencyUSA