Grassley, Levin Hail Effort to Increase Corporate Transparency
WASHINGTON – The bipartisan sponsors of a Senate bill to combat corporate secrecy that provides anonymity to terrorists, money launderers and other international criminals today welcomed the announcement that the advocacy organization Global Witness will use the $1 million TED Prize to campaign for corporate transparency around the world.
Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, introduced the Incorporation Transparency and Law Enforcement Assistance Act, S. 1465, which would combat transnational crime by requiring U.S. states to include in their incorporation applications a question asking for the prospective corporation’s true owners. Cosponsors of the bill are Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.
“Today, money launderers, arms dealers, drug lords, terrorists and tax evaders are too often able to conceal their misconduct behind a wall of corporate secrecy,” said Levin, who has introduced similar legislation in the past three congresses. “Our legislation already has the strong support of the law enforcement community, and Global Witness’ plan to use its $1 million TED Prize to fight for corporate transparency will add momentum to the calls by police agencies, anti-corruption groups, human rights organizers, business groups and labor organizations to pass our bill.”
“Prosecutors of financial crimes follow the money,” Grassley said. “It’s hard for them to do that when criminals are able to exploit corporate transparency laws. The more focused attention on the need for our legislation, the better, as we work toward passage.”
President Obama cosponsored the 2008 version of the bill as a senator. A similar bipartisan bill, HR 3331, has been introduced by House Members Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y.; Peter King, R-N.Y.; Maxine Waters, D-Calif.; Gwen Moore, D-Wis.; and Michael Capuano, D-Mass.
Charmian Gooch, cofounder of Global Witnesses, announced Tuesday that the organization would use its $1 million prize to encourage governments to end corporate secrecy. The annual prize is awarded by TED, a nonprofit that organizes the well-known TED Talks featuring business, art and technology leaders. Since 2005, TED has awarded an annual prize in support of ideas with the potential to change the world. Past winners include U2 lead singer Bono’s ONE Campaign and chef Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.
Global Witness is an international nonprofit that brings to light the economic networks that enable corruption and crime.