November 29, 2017

ABA opposes legislation imposing beneficial ownership reporting on small businesses and their lawyers

WASHINGTON, Nov. 28, 2017 — American Bar Association President Hilarie Bass sent a letter to the leaders of the House Financial Services Committee expressing concerns over provisions in the draft of the “Counter Terrorism and Illicit Finance Act.” In particular, the ABA opposes Section 9 of the bill, which would require small corporations and limited liability companies and many of their lawyers to submit extensive information about the companies’ “beneficial owners” to the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and that would require FinCEN to disclose the information to many other federal and foreign governmental agencies and financial institutions upon request.

The ABA has worked diligently for years with the legal community, federal law enforcement authorities, international stakeholders and states to advance reforms to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. The ABA supports reasonable and necessary domestic and international measures to fight these illicit activities.

However, the ABA opposes the proposed regulatory approach set forth in Section 9 of the bill because it would impose burdensome, costly and unworkable new regulatory burdens on small businesses and their lawyers; would actually weaken the federal government’s current anti-money laundering and counterterrorist financing tools by suspending FinCEN’s potent new Customer Due Diligence rule; and would be unnecessary because the federal government and the legal profession have developed other tools and taken other steps that are much more effective and practical in fighting money laundering and terrorist financing than the bill’s mandates.

Read the letter here.

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