The Obama administration is preparing to roll out new rules meant to crack down on money laundering, tax evasion and corruption, officials announced Thursday evening. The administration will also seek legislation related to transparency relating to ownership of companies and new tools for prosecuting transnational corruption.
The new rules and legislation would be "tools to detect, disrupt, and deter terrorist financing, money laundering, and tax evasion," said Wally Adeyemo, deputy national security adviser for international economics to President Obama. "Our financial system should not provide the rich, the powerful, and the corrupt with the opportunity to shield their assets and avoid paying their fair share or with the opportunity to hide any illicit activity."
The Panama Papers, the recent revelations of the extent of tax haven use that provoked controversy, have underscored the need for new transparency and accountability measures, said Adeyemo. The new rules announced Thursday evening, however, have been under development for a long time.
Chief among the new measures is the finalization of a Treasury rule on "Customer Due Diligence," which will require financial firms to know the identities of people who control companies that open accounts with them.
The Treasury and IRS are also proposing a new rule meant to increase transparency around what Treasury official Robert Stack called a "narrow class" of business entities that currently can be used to shield the assets of foreign owners. Those companies, foreign-owned single-member limited liability companies, would be required to report to the IRS, which could then determine whether they were skirting taxes.
In addition to the new administrative actions, the White House is calling on Congress to advance legislation aimed at similar goals. Those include a "beneficial ownership" bill requiring information about the people who are behind a corporation, new anti-corruption tools for the Department of Justice, and the ratification of eight tax treaties.
The White House also wants Congress to work on legislation providing reciprocity under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. Under that law, signed by Obama in 2010, foreign banks must report on noncompliance by U.S. taxpayers. The law the administration is seeking would require information going outbound from U.S. banks as well.