U.S. must end anonymous
BY CONGRESSWOMAN CAROLYN
In 2016, a massive leak of 11.5 million
documents from the Panamanian law
firm Mossack Fonseca exposed a global
network of offshore shell companies, many
of which were used for money laundering,
tax evasion, fraud, and even sanctions
evasion. Bad actors around the world —
including associates of Vladimir Putin and
Xi Jingping — had been going to Panama to
create shell companies to hide their money.
These documents, known as the
“Panama Papers,” were shocking. But
one question stood out: Of all the people
who were named in the Panama Papers,
why were so few of them from the United
States? The reason, it’s sad to say, is that
Americans don’t have to go to Panama to
create anonymous shell companies — they
can easily set up anonymous shell companies
right here in the U.S.!
Corporations and LLCs are formed at
the state level in the U.S., and no U.S.
state currently requires companies to
disclose their true, beneficial owners. This
means that the U.S. is the world capital
of anonymous shell companies — and is a
hub for not just money laundering, but also
terrorist financing. Yes, that’s right — the
same terrorist groups that attack the U.S.
are also using the U.S. financial system
to move their money, and to finance their
operations. It’s appalling, and it has to end.
To combat these abuses and end the illicit
use of anonymous shell companies, I having
been working on legislation, the Corporate
Transparency Act, for over a decade. It finally
passed the House last October, and was included
in the House-passed National Defense
Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year
2021. That legislation is currently being
negotiated by House and Senate conferees
and I am working to make sure that Congress
finally passes this bipartisan bill to strengthen
our national security and crack down on
money laundering and organized crime.
Beyond the impacts for law enforcement,
this bill will directly affect us here at home
by lowering housing costs in New York City.
Kleptocrats and criminals routinely park
their illicit money in luxury real estate in
New York City, which limits the availability
of housing and drives up housing costs for
ordinary New Yorkers. You see this vividly
when you drive through parts of NYC at
night — entire buildings have no lights on,
because no one actually lives in these apartments;
they were purchased purely to hide
money, and to act as a bank account. This
removes valuable housing that could go to
hardworking New Yorkers from the market,
and drives up housing costs for everyone. But
my bill will put an end to this practice onceand
for-all. Put simply, my bill would lower
housing costs for ordinary New Yorkers.
This is one of the most pressing national
security problems we face in this country,
because anonymous shell companies are
the vehicle of choice for money launderers,
criminals, and terrorists. Because of its
bipartisan, common sense approach, the
Corporate Transparency Act has the support
of more 130 good-government organizations,
the entire law enforcement community, the financial
industry, and the real estate industry.
We’re the only advanced country in the
world that doesn’t already require disclosure
of this information — and frankly, it’s
an embarrassment. We must must fix this
in the final NDAA.
Chairwoman of the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee
Fare increases won’t save the MTA
It comes as no surprise that the MTA is
considering possible fare increases this
time of year; they generally occur every
two years, and the last one occurred in the
spring of 2019.
Back then, the fare increase sought to
keep the MTA flush with cash needed to
fund its operations and keep the system in
good repair. But the fare increase sought
this time around might be considered
an integral part of the authority’s very
The MTA is billions of dollars in the red,
thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic that
saw subway ridership plunge by 90% in
March and April. Commuters have slowly
returned to the system in the summer and
fall as the city reopened, but they threaten
to disappear again as the second wave of
COVID-19 hits New York City hard.
While the MTA loses revenue, it’s paying
tens of millions to operate at nearly full
speed anyway to keep the city moving.
It’s also laboring to keep the entire system
disinfected every night.
And thanks to spiteful Republicans in
the White House and Senate, neither the
MTA nor the city have seen a new infusion
of much-needed federal cash in months.
Even with fare increases on the table, it
won’t be enough for the MTA to close their
budget deficit and avoid the “doomsday
budget” cuts to labor and service that the
board outlined at its Nov. 18 meeting.
Still, the MTA pushes forth with myriad
fare increase proposals for the authority
and public to consider — from bumping up
the base fare by 2-4%, to even eliminating
7-day and 30-day unlimited passes.
There’s never a good time for a fare hike,
let alone now, with ridership coming off the
pandemic nadir and the city struggling to
stay open. We get the MTA’s desperation
for funding, but the authority must ensure
that subways and buses are affordable for
all to ride.
Every extra quarter for a fare, or extra
dollar spent on an unlimited pass, just sucks
more from the commuters who are also paying
payroll taxes and other fees to the MTA
— and who are also struggling mightily today.
The simple solution is the only one for
the MTA and for the city: A massive federal
bailout that also defers planned fare
increases by a year.
It must happen, and the incoming Biden
administration must do what the outgoing
Trump administration won’t.
Publisher of The Villager, Villager Express, Chelsea Now,
Downtown Express and Manhattan Express
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8 November 26, 2020 Schneps Media